Current Affairs Headlines

S. No.Headlines
1 05-06-2020 - Indian Economy – The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 – Cabinet approves ‘The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020’ to ensure barrier-free trade in agriculture produce. Cabinet also approves ‘The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020’ to empower farmers to engage with processors, wholesalers, large retailers and exporters.
(Agriculture, Indian Economy)
2 05-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Cabinet approves amendment to Essential Commodities Act; onion, potatoes freed from regulation – The Union Cabinet approved an amendment to the Essential Commodities Act to deregulate food items, including cereals and onion. Calling the "historic" amendment to the Essential Commodities Act a "visionary step towards the transformation of agriculture and raising farmers’ income," the government said it will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference. Farm produce like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes will be removed from the list of essential commodities.
(Indian Economy)
3 05-06-2020 - Hong Kong Protests Updates – Hong Kong marks Tiananmen anniversary, defying a police ban – Thousands of people in Hong Kong defied a police ban, breaking through barricades to hold a candlelight vigil on the 31st anniversary of China's crushing of a democracy movement centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. With democracy all but snuffed out in mainland China, the focus has shifted increasingly to semi-autonomous Hong Kong, where authorities for the first time banned the annual vigil to remember victims of the 1989 crackdown. Beijing is taking a tougher stance following months of anti-government protests last year, in what activists see as an accelerating erosion of the city's rights and liberties.
(Social Issues)
4 05-06-2020 - Indian Economy - Setting up of an “Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) and Project Development Cells (PDCs) – Government approves setting up of an “Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) and Project Development Cells (PDCs)” in Ministries/Departments for attracting investments in India. This will make India a more investor-friendly destination and to handhold and further smoothen investment inflows into the country. It will give a fillip to our domestic industries. EGoS and PDC is an important step in realising vision of a $5 trillion economy. It will bring about synergies between Ministries/Departments and among the Central and State Governments in investment and related incentive policies. It is launched to give a boost to the economy and open up immense direct and indirect employment potential in various sectors.
(Indian Economy)
5 05-06-2020 - USA George Floyd Protests Updates – New charges against Minneapolis policemen as protests continue – The added murder charge filed against one officer already in custody and the arrest of three more accused of playing a role in the killing of George Floyd, 46, came as several nights of escalating unrest gave way to mostly peaceful protests. Thousands of demonstrators massed near the White House lit up their cellphone flashlights and sang along to the 1970s soul tune “Lean on Me,” before resuming a chorus of anti-police chants. In a further display of self-policing seen in Washington and elsewhere this week, a number of protesters urge some of their more provocative cohorts to stop taunting police and leave.
(Social Issues)
6 05-06-2020 - International Relations – India Australia virtual meet – India and Australia raised their relationship to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” after a ‘virtual’ summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who concluded nine agreements including a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) and issued a joint declaration on a “Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.” The two countries also agreed to increase the frequency of meetings between the two Prime Ministers, and took the “2+2” format of bilateral meetings to the level of Foreign and Defence Ministers, who will meet to “discuss strategic issues” at least every two years. The summit came amidst tensions between India and China over the stand-off at the LAC, and Australia-China tensions over trade issues and differences over handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there had been “no discussion” on China, and the two leaders had not discussed including Australia for “Malabar” or quadrilateral maritime exercises that would include India, Australia, U.S. and Japan, something that China has opposed in the past.
(World Politics)
7 05-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Campaign seeks healthy air even after lockdown ends – A 12-year-old climate activist’s campaign seeking healthy air after the lockdown will use the World Environment Day platform on June 5 to amplify its demand that the government ensure that particulate matter (PM) 2.5 levels in cities remain at 60 micrograms per cubic metre. PM 2.5 particles are fine pollutants that invade the smallest of airways. The safe limit of PM 2.5 is 0-60. The campaign, #SaalBhar60, unveiled by Haridwar-based Ridhima Pandey, will have celebrities, activists and citizens holding placards demanding ‘Clean Air for All’ and sharing images on social media by tagging various people in government and other agencies who can bring about this change.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
8 05-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – 26 lakh migrant workers stranded – The Chief Labour Commissioner’s office has counted over 26 lakh migrant workers stranded across the country, of which 10% are in relief camps or shelter homes, while 43% are on site at workplaces and 46% are in other clusters. This is an extreme underestimation, going by the other assessments made by the Central and State governments, including Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s estimate of eight crore stranded migrants used to determine extra ration provisions in the Atmanirbhar package. On April 8, even as the first wave of workers was leaving the cities due to the lockdown, CLC (Central) Rajan Verma wrote to regional heads, saying “comprehensive data” on migrant workers was “urgently required within three days”.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
9 05-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – New SOPs for hotels and malls – Hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, religious places and offices in containment zones shall remain closed, except for medical and essential services, according to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Union Health Ministry. It said these establishments would be open only outside the containment zones and only asymptomatic staff members, guests and visitors would have access to these areas. No gathering or crowding of any kind would be permitted.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
10 05-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – Dialogue to focus on three areas – The first-ever talks between Indian and Chinese Lieutenant-Generals over the weekend to ease the tension on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) will focus on eastern Ladakh with the aim of moving back to the earlier positions. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Leh-headquartered 14 Corps will lead the Indian delegation at the talks to be held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side. The delegation would also include officers of the rank of Major-General and Brigadier of that area and a translator.
(Defence and Military)
11 04-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Mobile trading surges during lockdown – The two-month lockdown against the COVID-19 pandemic gave investors a lot of time to stay at home and trade in the capital market, especially using their smartphones, as the share of mobile trading touched record highs during the period. Data from the stock exchanges show that the share of mobile trading witnessed a spike in April and continued in May. Further, with the recent surge, the quantum of such trades has more than doubled in the last one year.
(Indian Economy)
12 04-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Nifty Reclaims 10,000 – India’s stock indices gained for the sixth straight day to the highest level in about three months as investors bet that the easing of the countrywide lockdown will reboot economic growth. Both the Sensex and the Nifty ended up 0.8%, with the latter closing above the 10,000-mark for the first time since March. The Sensex ended up 284.01 points, or 0.8%, at 34,109.54 while the NSE Nifty closed 82.45 points, or 0.8%, higher at 10,061.55. Mahindra & Mahindra, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Bajaj Finance, State Bank of India and Nestle India were up over 2-5%, ending as the top gainers on the Sensex.
(Indian Economy)
13 04-06-2020 - Hong Kong Protests Updates – Johnson pledges to admit 3 million from Hong Kong to UK – Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised the stakes in a brewing confrontation with China, promising to allow nearly 3 million people from Hong Kong to live and work in Britain if Beijing moves forward with a new national security law on the former British colony. Johnson’s offer, made in a column in the Times of London, opens the door to a significant influx of people fleeing Hong Kong, should the situation in the territory deteriorate further. But it leaves unanswered thorny questions about how difficult it would be for these arrivals to obtain British citizenship.
(Social Issues)
14 04-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Germany to lift travel ban for 29 European countries on June 15 – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas unveiled Germany's plan to lift travel restrictions on 29 European countries. The easing of travel restrictions applies to passport-free Schengen-area countries as well as the UK and will apply from June 15. The ban currently in place will be changed to travel guidelines. Although the news will be welcomed by many, Maas warned Germans against rushing to travel.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
15 04-06-2020 - USA George Floyd Protests Updates – Peaceful protests defy US curfews despite Trump crackdown demands – Big groups of protesters stayed on the streets despite curfews after hundreds of thousands of people earlier had massed from Washington to Houston, but the demonstrations were largely peaceful. The protests in Washington against the killing of George Floyd continued despite Donald Trump threatening the previous evening to send “thousands of heavily armed soldiers” into the streets of the capital. The president continued his refrain on Wednesday morning, tweeting: “The National Guard is ready!”.
(Social Issues)
16 04-06-2020 - Social – Student taking own life disheartening: HC – Observing that it was disheartening to learn that a student allegedly took her own life owing to lack of access to the Internet for attending virtual classes, a single judge of the Kerala High Court referred to a Division Bench a writ petition for a direction to CBSE schools not to collect additional fee for online/virtual classes. Justice C.S. Dias passed the order, restraining CBSE-affiliated Sree Budha Central School, Karunagapally, from collecting any fee for online classes from Sreelekshmi S. and Dhanvin M. Pillai, Std. III and VII students. The judge said the right to education was mandated under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
(Constitution and Law, Social Issues)
17 04-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Row over death of pregnant elephant in Kerala – The death of a pregnant elephant in a stream at Thiruvizhamkunnu, near Mannarkkad, in Kerala’s Palakkad district on May 27 has erupted into a huge controversy, with a section of the national media and their social media arms branding it an act of human cruelty. The elephant death came to light two days ago when a forest officer wrote about it in a Facebook post. The elephant was found to be sick and had waded into the Velliyar stream near Thiruvizhamkunnu forest station under the Mannarkkad forest division. It spent more than two days in the stream, often coming to the shore for brief while. Forest officers tried to save it using a kumki elephant. However, the pachyderm succumbed to its injuries before the kumki reached it.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
18 04-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India registers massive spike of 9,577 cases; toll rises to 6,077 – India registered a massive spike of 9,577 new COVID-19 cases and 253 fatalities, according to data from the State Health Departments. The number of active cases stands at 2,16,735, including 1,06,658 actives ones, while 1,04,000 people have recovered. The death toll rose to 6,077. The Indian Council of Medical Research said that 1,37,158 samples were tested on June 3, going up from 1,28,868 on June 2, when India registered 8,917 cases.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
19 04-06-2020 - Internal Security – India-China Standoff 2020 – To ramp up infrastructure along the China border, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to spend 10% funds of a Centrally sponsored scheme only on projects in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim. The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) has been allocated Rs. 784 crore in the 2020-21 fiscal and the money is distributed to the border States and Union Territories depending on various criteria such as the length of the international border and population. In 2019-20, Rs. 825 crore was granted for the scheme.
(Defence and Military)
20 04-06-2020 - Natural Disasters – Cyclone Nisarga Updates – Torrential rain, accompanied by wind speeds of up to 120 kmph over a radius of 60 km, marked Cyclone Nisarga’s landfall at Murud in Raigad district of Maharashtra. Nisarga, which was categorised as a severe cyclone and which had kept the authorities on their toes for the past few days, made landfall around noon. At least two died in the cyclone. While one died when an electric pole fell in Raigad district, a senior citizen lost her life and five of her relatives were injured in a house collapse in Khed taluk of Pune district.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
21 03-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Govt eyes $17bn investment proposals to boost local manufacturing – The government is considering proposals for investment of $16-17 billion (around Rs 1.25 lakh crore) to boost domestic production of air conditioners and its components, furniture and leather footwear, while looking at options, including duty hikes, to reduce import dependence and push exports.
(Indian Economy)
22 03-06-2020 - Afghanistan-Taliban – Taliban closely tied to Qaida - UNSC– The Taliban continues to be closely allied with al-Qaida, contrary to all its assurances to the United States during the peace deal negotiations. This has been made clear in the latest report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the United Nations security council. According to report a large number of foreign terrorist fighters, including up to 6,500 Pakistani nationals, operating in Afghanistan. Besides, UN designated entities like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed, operating from Pakistancontrolled territories facilitating trafficking and imparting training to other terrorists in Afghanistan. For India, the report reaffirms its view that Pakistan remains the epicentre of terrorism.
(Terrorism)
23 03-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Pregnant elephant fed fruit laced with explosives, dies – In a horrifying case of animal cruelty, a pregnant wild elephant was fed fruits laced with explosives that blew and injured her mouth, jaw and tongue. While she survived the ordeal, it took her a week to die a painful death. The forest department began an investigation after her carcass was found in Velliyar River under Mannarkkad forest division on May 27. Wildlife warden of Silent Valley National Park, Samuel Pachuau, said that the department is trying to identify the perpetrators. Assistant forest veterinary officer in Thrissur, Dr David Abraham, said that he discovered that the elephant was pregnant during autopsy.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
24 03-06-2020 - Natural Disasters - Cyclone Nisarga moves closer to Maharashtra coast – The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that Cyclone “Nisarga” is very likely to intensify into a “severe cyclonic storm” over the next 12 hours and cross Maharashtra and South Gujarat coast. The cyclonic storm will cross North Maharashtra and adjoining South Gujarat coast between Harihareshwar and Daman, close to Alibaug (in Maharashtras Raigad), on June 3 as a severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind 100-110 gusting to 120 kmph. Mumbai, Thane, Palghar have been put on red alert till June 4. Cyclone Nisarga comes weeks after Super Cyclone Amphan hit West Bengal, Odisha and Bangladesh. Residents along the coasts of Maharashtra and Gujarat have been alerted of the storm.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
25 03-06-2020 - International Relations – PM Modi spoke to US President – Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to US President Donald Trump on the latter’s proposal to include India in the G-7 club of advanced economies. Trump has extended an invitation to PM Modi to attend the next G-7 Summit that the US is hosting this time. Trump had earlier suggested that the Group of 7 be called “G10 or G11”, and proposed that it meet in September or November this year. Taking to Twitter, PM Modi said he had a “warm and productive conversation with my friend”, adding that they discussed “his plans for the US Presidency of G-7, the COVID-19 pandemic, and many other issues.”.
(Governance and Institutions, World Politics)
26 03-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Spike in MGNREGS numbers reveals impact of lockdown – As many as 90% of the total number of households who worked under MGNREGA in Chhattisgarh last year have participated in the job scheme in just around 40 days in 2020-21. The figure stands at a staggering 86% for Andhra and 68% for UP, indicating both the impact of the lockdown as also the lifeline it has been. The spike is likewise for major states across the country as it becomes clear that more and more families are seeking shelter under the flagship job scheme in the wake of destruction of employment owing to the pandemic and lockdown. Madhya Pradesh has already covered 53% of households who worked last year, Karnataka 46% and Gujarat 55%. The rush towards the programme is staggered during a year and the annual tally of households or persons who work in MGNREGA stabilises during the course of months.
(Indian Economy)
27 03-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – 10% of popn (aged 60+) accounts for 50% deaths – The elderly, who constitute 10% of India’s population, accounted for over 50% of its Covid-19 deaths. Besides, 73% of the deaths were among those with co-morbidities, the health ministry said, arguing that India was able to manage Covid treatment and reduce deaths better than many countries. People aged 60 to 74 years — 8% of the population — accounted for 38% of the deaths, while those above 74 — 2% of the population, constituted 12% of the deaths. The analysis was shared by the Centre even as the coronavirus death toll rose to over 5,500 with 219 more fatalities, while 8,128 new cases took the total number of infections to over 2 lakh.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
28 03-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Scientists identify second most common coronavirus type in India – Scientists at multiple CSIR laboratories have identified a type of coronavirus that may be the second most prevalent in India, and may comprise 3.5% of the genomes globally. The most dominant coronavirus clade in India is the A2a, and of 213 genomes analysed by the group, 62% of them were A2a. The newly identified type, that the scientists have christened A3i, comprised 41% of those analysed. With this, there are 11 SARS-CoV-2 types identified globally, with at least six of them identified in India. The coronavirus type, or clade, is a cluster of SARS-CoV-2 viruses that share evolutionary similarities.
(Healthcare and Medicine, Science and Technology)
29 03-06-2020 - Natural Disasters – 21 killed in Assam landslips – Twenty-one people were killed and seven injured in a series of landslips due to incessant rain in the Barak Valley of southern Assam early. Many of the victims died in their sleep. The dead included 10 minors, the youngest being three years old, and four women. Eight were killed in Hailakandi, seven in Cachar and six in Karimganj. The landslips occurred almost simultaneously in eight locations across four revenue circles in the three districts that make up the valley.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
30 03-06-2020 - Internal Security – China made significant deployment: Rajnath – Defence Minister Rajnath Singh acknowledged that China had moved troops in ‘significant numbers’ in the ongoing stand-off on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). There was an important dialogue between the two countries scheduled on June 6 to resolve the issue, he said. A dialogue was held on Tuesday at the Major General level. Dialogue between military commanders had been going on daily, including at the level of Majors General on June 2 too. No concrete resolution had been achieved and the talks would continue.
(Defence and Military)
31 02-06-2020 - COVID-19 Update – India records biggest spike again; death toll crosses 4,000 – India recorded roughly 7,000 new COVID-19 cases, marking its highest single-day jump in coronavirus infections for the fourth consecutive day. The nationwide tally has now crossed 1,38,000 while the death toll rose to 4,025. Five states and union territories independently reported their biggest spikes. Notably, Arunachal Pradesh, that had been declared coronavirus-free, reported a fresh case.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
32 02-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Direct tax mop-up rises 39% amid sharp decline in disbursement of refunds – Gross direct tax collections recorded a 13 per cent fall up to May 23 this year, compared to the same period last year. This came on the back of economic disruption caused by the outbreak. However, a sharp decline in disbursement of refunds by the tax department has bumped up net collections, which rose 39 per cent during the period. Gross tax collections declined to Rs 91,646 crore between April 1 and May 23, compared to Rs 1.05 trillion in the corresponding period of FY20. Refunds worth Rs 16,242 crore were issued during this period, a 68 per cent fall compared to the Rs 51,655 crore disbursed last year.
(Indian Economy)
33 02-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Moody’s trims India’s rating to lowest investment grade, retains ‘negative’ outlook – Moody’s Investors Service trimmed India’s sovereign rating by a notch to the lowest investment grade of Baa-2 and retained the “negative” outlook, giving effect to earlier warnings of a downgrade if the country’s fiscal metrics “weaken materially” in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the agency had warned of downgrade on May 8, the Centre unveiled an economic stimulus package of close to Rs 21 lakh crore (barely 10% of which was additional budgetary cost), the National Statistics Office announced the country’s GDP growth slowed to an 11-year low of 4.2% in FY20 and the Centre’s fiscal deficit in FY20 was revealed to be 4.6% of GDP, the highest level since FY13.
(Indian Economy)
34 02-06-2020 - Daniel Pearl Case - SC rejects Sindh govt’s plea to suspend SHC verdict – The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan rejected the Sindh government’s plea to suspend Sindh High Court’s (SHC) judgement regarding the release and acquittal of accused in the murder case of American journalist Daniel Pearl. During the hearing, Justice Manzoor Malik said the petition seeking suspension of the judgment cites irrelevant provisions. The apex court ordered the counsel representing the provincial government, Farooq H Naek, to submit the detailed record before the court for the case to be further heard. The hearing was then adjourned indefinitely. The Sindh government had sought time to submit the record of the trial court.
(Constitution and Law)
35 02-06-2020 - Hong Kong Protests Updates – Hong Kong Police Block Tiananmen Square Vigil, Citing Coronavirus Concerns – For the first time in 30 years, police in Hong Kong have denied permission for organizers to hold an annual vigil for victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Police have cited concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The rally has been held each year since 1990 to commemorate the lives lost in the June 4, 1989, crackdown in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The Chinese military opened fire on citizens who were calling for economic and democratic reforms. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organized the vigil. The alliance also asked the public to join an online gathering and light candles across the city.
(Social Issues)
36 02-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – COVID-19 strikes fear in Bru refugee camp in Tripura – The novel coronavirus has struck in a relief camp for about 15,000 displaced Bru tribal people in Tripura’s Kanchanpur subdivision. A man from the Damcherra area of North Tripura district’s Panisagar subdivision bordering Mizoram was prescribed home quarantine after he reached Agartala in May-end. But his swab sample tested COVID-19 positive the day after he reached his wife’s house at the Naisingpara relief camp on the morning of May 30. The camp is about 185 km northeast of Agartala.    
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
37 02-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Locusts fly into Chhattisgarh from M.P. – Swarms of desert locusts flew into two villages of Korea district of Chhattisgarh from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh but caused minimal damage. A swarm remained between Punji and Jwaratola villages of Bharatpur block of the district. A further advance inside Chhattisgarh depended on Madhya Pradesh’s handling of swarms and the wind direction, Maninder Kaur Dwivedi, Principal Secretary of the Chhattisgarh Agriculture Department.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
38 02-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Pulses, oilseeds see sharp hike in MSP – The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved an increase in the minimum support prices (MSPs) for all mandated kharif crops, including paddy, pulses and cotton, for the 2020-21 marketing season. The Union Cabinet also extended the repayment date for standard short-term loans upto Rs. 3 lakh for agriculture and allied activities, till August 31, 2020. The MSP for paddy (common) has been increased by Rs. 53 per quintal, to Rs. 1,868 per quintal, while that of cotton was increased by Rs. 260 per quintal to Rs. 5,515 for medium staple variety, and by Rs. 275 per quintal to Rs. 5,825 for long staple variety.
(Indian Economy)
39 02-06-2020 - USA: George Floyd Protests Update – Clashes outside White House, more U.S. cities under curfew – The police fired tear-gas outside the White House as anti-racism protesters again took to the streets to voice fury at police brutality. Major U.S. cities were put under curfew to suppress rioting. With the Trump administration branding instigators of six nights of rioting as domestic terrorists, there were more confrontations between protesters and the police and fresh outbreaks of looting. Violent clashes erupted repeatedly in a small park next to the White House, with authorities using tear-gas, pepper spray and flash bang grenades to disperse crowds that lit several large fires and damaged property.
(Social Issues)
40 02-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Monsoon hits Kerala with cyclone in the background – The monsoon has arrived in Kerala, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. This is four days earlier than what the IMD had forecast in mid-May but is also the date on which the monsoon normally sets in over the State. However, 700 km from Mumbai, a nascent cyclone is brewing in the Arabian Sea and is likely to hit north Maharashtra as well as the Gujarat coast by June 3. The IMD’s latest cyclone update expects it to balloon into a ‘severe cyclone’ by the middle of the week. The presence of a cyclone near land during the monsoon onset could delay the progress of the monsoon and put it into a ‘hiatus’.
(Indian Economy)
41 01-06-2020 - Indian Economy – As personal & small biz loans crash, bank lending in April shrinks Rs. 1.1 L cr – Bank lending has shrunk by Rs 1.1 lakh crore during the four weeks ended April 24 to Rs 91.5 lakh crore. While such a decline is not unusual, this year the drop was entirely because of loans to individuals in the personal segment shrinking by nearly Rs 63,000 crore and to micro and small enterprises by nearly Rs. 50,000 crore during the period which coincided with Lockdown 1.0 and the first half of Lockdown 2.0. In percentage terms, the sharpest drop was in the personal segment, with middleclass borrowing through credit card outstanding and advances against fixed deposits and shares falling by over 10%. Most Indians stayed home, unable to go out and spend or order anything online.
(Indian Economy)
42 01-06-2020 - USA  – U.S. streets left scarred after fifth night of outrage – Another night of outrage left stores looted and cars smoldering in many U.S. cities as curfews failed to quell violence that replaced peaceful daytime demonstrations over the death of a black man seen on video gasping for breath as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck. In Salt Lake City, a man aimed a bow and arrow at protesters and was attacked by the crowd. Fires burned in the streets of Los Angeles. Protesters ripped apart an American flag in Raleigh, North Carolina. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas in many cities.
(Social Issues)
43 01-06-2020 - India-Nepal Relations – Amendment on new map tabled in Nepal parliament – The government of Nepal tabled the crucial Constitution Amendment Bill to formalise the country’s new map, which claims parts of India as its territory. The Bill was tabled by Nepal’s Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe even as Nepal’s Madhesi parties refused to welcome the Bill as of now. Meanwhile, there was high drama on the streets with reports that senior diplomats wanted to reach the Parliament to witness the historic session.
(Constitution and Law, Regional Politics)
44 01-06-2020 - International Politics - Trump cuts ties with WHO as COVID-19 grips Latin America – President Donald Trump said he is severing ties with the World Health Organization (WHO) over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the death toll from the disease spiked again in the U.S. and Brazil. The virus, which has killed more than 3,64,000 people and devastated the global economy, is progressing at different speeds across the globe, with Europe continuing to open up from lockdown after seeing its number of infections steadily fall. Italy’s iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened, while Parisians flocked to parks open for the first time in months. But countries in Latin America are bracing for difficult weeks ahead, especially Brazil, where the death toll shot up by 1,124 and there was a record number of new infections.
(Healthcare and Medicine, World Politics)
45 01-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India’s recovery rate improves to 47% – India’s COVID-19 recovery rate improved to 47.4% from 38.29% on May 18. The Union Health Ministry stated that to scale up testing and enhance reach across the country, city/regional clusters have been established in a hub-and-spoke model. The Ministry added that the hubs are the government labs approved by the Ministries and so far 19 city/regional clusters had been established. These are in Delhi/NCR, Ahmedabad, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Banaras, Palampur among other areas. Meanwhile during the past 24 hours, a total of 11,264 COVID-19 patients have recovered.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
46 01-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Govt. eases a slew of restrictions; malls, religious places to open – As Lockdown 4.0 comes to an end, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released new guidelines called ‘Unlock 1.0’ that allow the opening of malls, restaurants and religious places in all areas except the containment zones from June 8. It, however, prohibits the opening of bars, swimming pools gymnasiums, entertainment parks, cinema halls, metro rail and international air travel. The permit system for inter-State movement of vehicles has been removed and there shall be no restriction on movement within and outside a State. If the local administration has to regulate the movement in the wake of a surge in COVID-19 cases, it will have to give wide publicity in advance regarding the procedure and restrictions to be followed.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
47 01-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Kota coaching institutes may reopen by June-end – The state government is all set to reopen coaching centres in Kota by the end of June, and has offered all help to institutes to bring back students who had left for their respective states due to the pandemic. The lockdown has seen the coaching town reel under one of the worst economic crisis as the sector alone provides direct employment to over one lakh residents in multiple sectors. Making the first move, UDH minister and Kota MLA Shanti Dhariwal has suggested to the local administration to put coaching areas into separate zones or categories while imposing restrictions on unnecessary movement of vehicles and local residents.
(Education, Healthcare and Medicine)
48 01-06-2020 - Constitution and Law – Intolerance against judiciary growing, says Supreme Court judge – Supreme Court judge Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said there was a growing intolerance against the judiciary fuelled by the social media. He said imputations were being made against judges for their decisions. Damage was done to the judicial institution if the tendency to criticise crossed certain lines. He said this during an online lecture on Sunday on ‘Freedom of Speech in times of COVID-19 - Fake news and misinformation’ organised by the MBA Academy, Madras Bar Association. The event saw the participation of S. Parthasarathy, chairman of the MBA Academy, and M. Baskar, secretary of the Madras Bar Association.
(Constitution and Law)
49 01-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – CIC admonishes official for denying RTI data on stranded migrants – The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up an official for “callous and casual” response in denying data on stranded migrant labourers under the RTI Act, and asked the Labour Ministry to upload on its website as much data as possible on them. Information Commissioner Vanaja N. Sarna came down heavily on the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the office of Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) who has told RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak that it has no data on stranded migrant labourers.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
50 01-06-2020 - Internal Security/Terrorism – Two militants escape encounter site in J&K’s Anantnag – At least two trapped militants managed to break a security cordon and escape from an encounter site in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir. The militants were engaged in a brief gunfight in south Kashmir’s Posh-Kreeri area in Anantnag in a pre-dawn cordon-and-search operation of the Army, CRPF and the police. A firefight broke out around 2 a.m. The operation was launched after a specific tip-off and the militants were spotted too but by the time first light of day broke, there was a lull from militants’ side. Later, no contact was established with the militants. It seems the militants managed to break the cordon. No bodies or weapons were recovered from the encounter site despite hectic search operation, police added.
(Defence and Military, Terrorism)
51 30-05-2020 - World Politics – Malaysia's Mahathir ousted from party amid power struggle – Malaysia's former PM Mahathir Mohamad has been ousted from his ethnic Malay political party in the latest twist of a power struggle with his successor, but he has vowed to challenge the move. The 94-year-old Mahathir, along with his son and three other senior members, were expelled from the Bersatu party. The party has has been split into two camps since intense political wrangling led Mahathir to resign the premiership in February and the king to appoint fellow party member Muhyiddin Yassin as his replacement despite Mahathir's objections. Mahathir’s son Mukhriz Mahathir had since challenged Muhyiddin as party president in a vote that's been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
52 30-05-2020 - Miscellaneous – Noted astrologer Bejan Daruwalla dies at 89 – Well-known astrologer Bejan Daruwalla passed away in a Ahmedabad hospital. He was 89. He complained of pneumonia like symptoms and was admitted at city’s Apollo Hospital about a week ago. Two days back his condition deteriorated when he was put on ventilator support. He is survived by two sons-Nastur and Fardun-and a daughter, Nazreen. He did not die of coronavirus but due to pneumonia. The cause of his death was no oxygen supply to his brain,” his son Nastur told.
(People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
53 30-05-2020 - USA – Civil unrest spreads across country – Civil unrest exploded across the United States as a third day of protests in Minneapolis over the alleged daylight murder of a black man by a white police officer earlier this week spread to other parts of the country. The growing strife drew the attention of President Trump, who threatened to deploy the military to take control of the Democratic-run Minnesota in a politically surcharged season, warning in a tweet that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. Critics are blaming Trump for fanning the flames of civic unrest by echoing the exact words used by George Wallace, a white supremacist-segregationist-racist. The tweet was flagged by Twitter for “glorifying violence”, aggravating the already raging confrontation between Trump and social media giants, who he has sought to corral with an executive order aimed at diluting their protection against lawsuits.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
54 30-05-2020 - Corporate World - Wipro appoints Capgemini veteran as CEO – After a four-month long search, Wipro has appointed former Capgemini COO Thierry Delaporte as its CEO. The 52-year-old Frenchman’s appointment immediately lifted hopes among investors in a company that has been growing at barely half the rate of its peers for several years now. The Wipro share price rose 6.7% on the BSE, and almost 10% in morning trade on the NYSE. Delaporte will be the first non-Indian to lead a major Indian IT company. Cognizant has had non-Indian CEOs — including its first CEO and the current one — but it is a US-headquartered company, though it is often described as an Indian-heritage firm on account of its India origins. Delaporte, who replaces current CEO Abidali Neemuchwala effective July 6, will be based in Paris for a year and will move to New York in 2021.
(People and Personalities)
55 30-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Covid squeezes core sector in April, output slumps 38% – Output of eight core sector industries plunged 38.1% in April — probably the steepest ever — led by an over 80% slump in cement and steel production due to the nationwide lockdown. The numbers indicated that overall industrial production is headed for a high doubledigit decline as the Covid-19-induced lockdown has taken a toll on economic activity. The core sector industries have an over 40% weight in the IIP (index of industrial production).
(Indian Economy)
56 30-05-2020 - World Politics – Asia – HC slaps contempt case on 49 netizens – Exasperated by a scurrilous smear campaign against it for ruling against government decisions, the Andhra Pradesh high court has taken the unprecedented decision of initiating contempt of court proceedings against 49 social media users, including supporters of YSR Congress Party, which governs the state. Never before has a constitutional court drawn up contempt proceedings against so many people, and that too on the basis of their remarks, howsoever scurrilous or damaging, on social media. But the tipping point came when the HC found that judges who ruled against certain proposals of the Jagan Mohan Reddy government were berated on social media as former CM Chandrababu Naidu’s men. Referring to other abusive and life-threatening posts, the HC said the identical and intimidating posts were meant to scandalise the court and lower the image of the HC and its judges in the public eye. The high court issued contempt notice to the social media users who were identified from their accounts and asked the state government to identify eight unidentified users, such as one ‘devil’s attorney’, before posting further proceedings after three weeks.
(World Politics)
57 30-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Despite tremendous suffering, India has averted disaster: PM – PM Modi, in a letter to citizens on the completion of the first year of his second term, said the collective strength and resolve of people could be seen in the way India has dealt with Covid-19. He said despite the “tremendous suffering” of the people, massive efforts had ensured that “inconvenience” didn’t turn into “disasters”.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
58 30-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Delhi records 1,000-plus cases second day in a row – As many as 1,106 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Delhi in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 17,386, according to the Delhi government’s health bulletin. This is the biggest single-day jump in the number of cases in the city so far and the second consecutive day of more than 1,000 cases being recorded. Of the total cases, 7,846 people have recovered and there are 9,142 active cases. The total number of deaths also rose to 398 with 82 more fatalities being reported, 13 of them happening in the past 24 hours.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
59 30-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Lockdown 5.0 to be strictly implemented in 13 cities – The government is all set to announce Lockdown 5.0 for two weeks, with strict implementation in 13 cities that have recorded 70% of the total COVID-19 cases. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will issue revised guidelines soon. Union Home Minister Amit Shah met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is learnt to have given him the feedback he received from the Chief Ministers. Mr. Shah called all the Chief Ministers, and sought their views on extending the lockdown. Even as the new guidelines are set to be announced, there were 7,707 new COVID-19 cases and 263 deaths, the highest on a single day. This takes the total number of cases to 1,73,052 and fatalities to 4,970.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
60 30-05-2020 - Indian Economy – GDP growth slows to a 11-year low of 4.2%, Q4 slumps to 3.1% – Economic growth slowed to a 11-year low of 4.2% in 2019-20, according to provisional estimates released by the National Statistical Office. The final quarter of the fiscal year, the January-March period, saw the expansion in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) slump to 3.1%, reflecting the impact of the first week of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, which began on March 25. Fourth-quarter growth, while the slowest in 44 quarters, however, was still faster than the 2.2% pace predicted by most economists and ratings analysts.
(Indian Economy)
61 29-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Ice cream cos start home delivery as sales dive 40% – The Indian ice cream industry has been hit so hard that major companies from Hindustan Unilever (HUL) to Mother Dairy have started delivering the frozen dessert to consumers’ homes to make up for lost ground. The industry, which was pegged at around Rs 17,639 crore in 2019 by Euromonitor, has lost a major chunk of its yearly sales due to the Covid-19 imposed lockdown and the absence of migrant workers, who man ice cream carts in several markets across the country.
(Indian Economy)
62 29-05-2020 - Indian Economy – FDI inflows surge 18% in 2019-20 to record $74bn – India’s FDI inflows, including reinvested earnings, rose 18% to a record $73.5 billion during 2019-20, buoyed by a spurt in inflows into computer hardware and software, telecom, and hotel and tourism, while services, the traditional mainstay, witnessed a decline. Excluding reinvested earnings, inflows were 14% higher at just a shade under $50 billion, which is also an all-time high. In fact, the large flows acted as a counterweight to low FII inflows during the year, which were estimated at $247 million (on a net basis) during the last financial year. The data naturally led to some celebration in government, given the overall gloomy economic situation and weak domestic investment. 
(Indian Economy)
63 29-05-2020 - India-Nepal Relations – Nepal pushes for talks, India says need to create trust first – With Nepal insisting on foreign secretary-level talks to address the Kalapani border issue, even while simultaneously pushing through a constitutional amendment to validate its new map, India said it was important to create an environment of trust and confidence for dialogue. After the main opposition party, Nepali Congress, sought more time and the Madhesis demanded that the proposed amendment also address their concerns, the K P Oli government hasn’t been able to table the bill in parliament yet. India said it had noted this matter was receiving “careful consideration” in Nepal, taking into account its seriousness.
(Indian Politics)
64 29-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - 6 local vaccine candidates identified, 30 groups on job – India has identified at least six local vaccine candidates with 30 groups trying to develop a vaccine for Covid-19. Besides, around 10 drugs are being repurposed for use in treatment of the disease and are under different stages of trials, the government said while also highlighting that it was working on guidelines to prioritise distribution of the vaccine once it is available. Underlining efforts by the scientific community and pharmaceutical companies to develop and manufacture vaccines, drugs and diagnostic kits locally to combat Covid-19, the government said science was the key weapon in the battle against the pandemic.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
65 29-05-2020 - USA – Protests over the death of a Black Man in custody went violent – Demonstrators clashed with police, looted stores and set fires as a man was fatally shot during a second night of protests in the US city of Minneapolis over the killing of a black man by a police officer. Police fired tear gas and formed a human barricade to keep protesters from climbing a fence surrounding the Third Precinct, where the officers accused of killing George Floyd worked before they were fired. They pushed protesters back as the crowd grew, a day after firing rubber bullets and more tear gas on thousands of demonstrators angered by the latest death of an African-American at the hands of US law enforcement.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
66 29-05-2020 - World Politics – Asia – China passes controversial Hong Kong law – China’s Parliament passed new legislation for Hong Kong that will for the first time empower Beijing to draft national security laws for the Special Administrative Region (SAR). At the closing session of the annual National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, the draft legislation was passed overwhelmingly, with 2,878 votes for, one against and six abstentions in the Communist Party-controlled legislature. The law, called the “NPC Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to Safeguard National Security”, essentially empowers the NPC to draft new national security laws for Hong Kong. That could happen as early as June, when the NPC Standing Committee, which convenes every two months, holds its next sitting.
(Constitution and Law, World Politics)
67 29-05-2020 - Social – Blanket ban on sale of properties: TTD – The Board of Trustees of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) resolved to impose a blanket ban on the sale of all landed properties received as donations. The ban would come into force with immediate effect, and under no circumstances would the lands, house sites, flats or any other endowed property be allowed for sale. Speaking to presspersons after a meeting held through videoconference, TTD Chairman Y.V. Subba Reddy said the organisation was committed to safeguarding the properties of Lord Venkateswara.
(Social Issues)
68 29-05-2020 - Terrorism/Kashmir – Security forces avert car-bombing in Pulwama – A 2019 Pulwama-style car-bombing by a suicide bomber was prevented in south Kashmir on Thursday, with security forces spotting the vehicle and later defusing over 40 kg of explosives. The militant, however, managed to escape. Timely action by security forces averted a major tragedy. A suicide attacker jumped two checkpoints before leaving a vehicle behind late on Wednesday in the Ayegund area of Rajpora, Pulwama.
(Defence and Military, Terrorism)
69 29-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Govt. will focus on 13 rregions – As Lockdown 4.0 nears an end, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba held a meeting with Municipal Commissioners and District Magistrates of 13 regions which account for 70% of the total COVID-19 cases in the country. The areas of focus are Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Thane, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata/Howrah, Indore, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Chengalpattu and Thiruvallur. The country registered 7,227 new cases and 175 fatalities, according to the State Health Departments. The overall tally stood at 1,65,242 cases, including 89,624 active ones, and 4,707 deaths.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
70 29-05-2020 - International Relations – MEA trying to solve the LAC issue with China calmly – Indian and Chinese sides remain “engaged” through diplomatic and military channels in Delhi and Beijing and at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in order to resolve the situation along the boundaries in Ladakh and Sikkim. Indicating that India would not accept U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between the two countries, it said the matter was being discussed bilaterally. While giving no details of the nature and extent of the standoff, which has been going on for weeks, the MEA said the contact between both sides on the issue included talks in “Delhi and Beijing”.
(World Politics)
71 28-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Govt looks at RBI to monetise deficit – The Centre is likely to look at the option of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetising the deficit in the second half of the financial year, a senior government official has said, asserting that the Centre is seriously examining the issue. The assessment within the government is that expenditure in the first half of the financial year would be met through market borrowing and spending re-prioritisation for various ministries. There is an uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last and the government is not keen on rushing into any decisions so early in the financial year.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
72 28-05-2020 - Environment and Ecology – 6-yr-old Sariska tigress gives birth to triplets again – Six-year-old tigress ST-12 has given birth to triplets one more time in Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR), making her the mother of six cubs born in different litters in the last two years. This is a record for any tigress to have six surviving cubs in STR. In 2018, the tigress for the first time set a record of giving birth to triplets in the history of STR. Born in 2014, this is the second time ST-12 has given birth to triplets. The tigress mated with ST-13. The total number of tigers in the Sariska reserve now stands at 20.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
73 28-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Revenue loss and labour top worries– A week after markets regulator Sebi asked companies to disclose in detail their estimated and expected losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic, disclosures by some of the leading corporates show that loss of revenue, along with the availability of labour and logistics challenges, top the list of hurdles. Of the about 25 corporates that have disclosed to the exchanges the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their businesses, the top ones include Bharat Forge, Titan, Avenue Supermarts (D-Mart), Dabur and L G Balakrishnan.
(Indian Economy)
74 28-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - France, Belgium and Italy halt HCQ use on Covid patients – France, Italy and Belgium acted to halt the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat patients suffering from Covid-19, amid questions about the safety of the antimalaria drug. France cancelled a decree allowing hospital doctors to dispense the medicine, while the Italian Medicine Agency suspended authorisation to use hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for Covid-19 outside clinical trials. France in March allowed the use of HCQ — which beyond malaria is approved to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis — in specific situations for hospital treatment of Covid-19.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
75 28-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - CBSE students can shift exam venues – Responding to demands from thousands of students who have been forced to move or been stranded during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has permitted Class 10 and 12 candidates to write their examinations wherever they are now. The CBSE had earlier expanded its list of examination centres from 3,000 to 13,000 to allow students a wider choice of venues, and also make it easier to implement social distancing norms. The move comes as a relief to students who had been studying in coaching centres or residential schools and had initially selected examination centres in these locations.
(Education, Healthcare and Medicine)
76 28-05-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Locust threat is bigger this year, warns monitor – The threat of locusts, which have invaded vast swathes of land in Rajasthan and entered neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, is bigger this year in comparison with the damage caused to standing crops in a limited area in 2019. The tropical grasshoppers have been crossing over to India via Pakistan’s Sindh province since April 11. The Union Agriculture Ministry’s Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), headquartered in Jodhpur, said that the locusts that came last year, after a gap of 26 years, were mature and had affected 12 districts of the State. This time, the locusts are immature and have crossed the India-Pakistan border soon after their birth.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
77 28-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Despite lockdown, wheat procurement on target – On the back of a record wheat harvest of more than 1,071 lakh tonnes, procurement of the grain — currently at 342.6 lakh tonnes — has also crossed last year’s levels despite the lockdown, and is well on the way to reaching this year’s target of 407 lakh tonnes. However, the progress on procurement is uneven, with States such as Punjab and Haryana racing towards their targets despite a late start, while Uttar Pradesh lags behind, having reached less than 40% of its target. Madhya Pradesh has already crossed its target. The late excess rainfall during last year’s monsoon followed by a long winter provided the climatic conditions needed for wheat production to hit a record high for the fourth straight year.
(Indian Economy)
78 28-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Kerala to conduct 3,000 tests daily – Kerala has decided to do more diagnostic PCR testing for COVID-19 and increase the number of tests per day to 3,000, as the influx of expatriates and non-resident Keralites from other parts of the country where disease transmission is intense has necessitated a better containment strategy.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
79 28-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Govt. removes ₹4,500 ceiling on test – The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has written to all the States and the Union Territories, suggesting that the upper ceiling of Rs. 4,500 for the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for COVID-19 be removed so that they can negotiate with the approved laboratories and introduce cheaper tests. The ICMR said the option was being given now as the “testing supplies situation has stabilised with greater local procurement”. The direction came on Wednesday when India reported 6,387 new cases and 170 deaths. The total number of cases stands at 1,51,767, including 83,004 active cases, 64,425 discharged and 4,337 deaths.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
80 28-05-2020 - International Relations – India-China Stand-off – U.S. President Donald Trump said that he had offered to help New Delhi and Beijing resolve their tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The offer came as a surprise on a day the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs appeared to soften its line on the standoff, suggesting the situation was “stable and controllable” now. Indian and Chinese troops have faced off at at least four points along the LAC, including Pangong Tso (lake), Demchok and Galwan Valley in Ladakh and Naku La in Sikkim, where PLA soldiers are reported to have occupied tracts patrolled by Indian troops, pitching tents and building trenches.
(World Politics)
81 27-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Govt looks at RBI to monetise deficit – The Centre is likely to look at the option of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetising the deficit in the second half of the financial year, a senior government official has said, asserting that the Centre is seriously examining the issue. The assessment within the government is that expenditure in the first half of the financial year would be met through market borrowing and spending re-prioritisation for various ministries. There is an uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last and the government is not keen on rushing into any decisions so early in the financial year.
(Indian Economy)
82 27-05-2020 - Environment and Ecology – 6-yr-old Sariska tigress gives birth to triplets again – Six-year-old tigress ST-12 has given birth to triplets one more time in Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR), making her the mother of six cubs born in different litters in the last two years. This is a record for any tigress to have six surviving cubs in STR. In 2018, the tigress for the first time set a record of giving birth to triplets in the history of STR. Born in 2014, this is the second time ST-12 has given birth to triplets. The tigress mated with ST-13. The total number of tigers in the Sariska reserve now stands at 20.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
83 27-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Aarogya Setu’s Android version is now open source – The government announced that the Aarogya Setu App will be open source, giving access to the source code to the developers’ community, and top officials said the move signals the government’s commitment to the core design principles of transparency, privacy and security. Open sourcing Aarogya Setu is a unique feat for India. No other government product anywhere in the world has been open-sourced at this scale.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
84 27-05-2020 - Asia: Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka Minister Thondaman passes away – Ceylon Workers’ Congress [CWC] leader and Sri Lanka Cabinet Minister Arumugan Thondaman passed away, after a sudden illness. He was 55. Earlier, Minister Thondaman met Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay and held discussions on development partnership in Sri Lanka's hill country, where Malayaha Tamils, or Tamils of recent Indian origin, reside. Nearly 1,50,000 people from the million-strong community work in the tea estates. Arumugan Thondaman, who served in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's government as Minister of Community Empowerment and Estate Infrastructure Development, is the grandson of iconic plantation Tamil leader and trade unionist Savumiamoorthy Thondaman, and has been the face of the party since his grandfather’s demise.
(People and Personalities)
85 27-05-2020 - US Presidential Elections - U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to pull the Republican Convention out of North Carolina – U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to pull the Republican Convention out of North Carolina if its Governor did not guarantee that there would be no restrictions on crowd numbers. The convention is an event to nominate the GOP’s presidential candidate (expected to be Mr. Trump). As the U.S.’s 50 States are in various stages of reopening, the number of coronavirus deaths approached 100,000. Tweeting to the Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, a Democrat, Mr. Trump said the GOP was spending millions constructing the arena for the convention and that Mr. Cooper was still in “shutdown mood”, unable to guarantee if a full crowd would be allowed to attend the August 24-27 convention.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
86 27-05-2020 - International Relations – Xi orders military to think about worst-case scenarios – China’s President Xi Jinping called on the military ‘to think about worst-case scenarios’ and ‘scale up battle preparedness’. He made the remarks during his annual meeting with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) representatives attending the National People’s Congress or Parliament in Beijing. Mr. Xi had also referred to “battle preparedness” during his meeting with the PLA in 2019. This year, his speech focused on the post-pandemic situation, as he heard the PLA members of Parliament reporting on ‘strengthening training amid the epidemic, and accelerating capacity building on biosecurity defense’.
(Defence and Military, World Politics)
87 27-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India’s recovery rate improved – India’s COVID recovery rate has improved from 26.59 % on May 2 to 41.61% on May 26, according to figures released by the Union Health Ministry. The Ministry, however, maintained that this improved recovery rate should not allow complacency to set in. The war against COVID-19 is a long-drawn one and we are far from safe. The case fatality rate was showing a downward trend from 3.30% (as on April 15) to around 2.87% at present, which is among the lowest in the world. The global average is presently around 6.45%.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
88 27-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Weak demand for air travel – Weak demand for air travel continued to haunt airlines on the second day of domestic flight operations as most flights saw only 25%-50% seats occupied by passengers, and in some cases this was as low as 7%. But flights to Mumbai saw a slight improvement in sales as the State government on Monday relaxed quarantine norms for short-term travel, it is learnt. Passengers travelling to the city for less than seven days have been exempted from isolation, provided they don’t travel to Mumbai’s hotspots.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
89 27-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Need stricter trials HCQ testing in India – The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) moratorium on testing hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the controversial anti-malarial drug, for treating COVID-19, doesn't imply that India should pause testing the drug as a preventive, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO said but she stressed that India ought to be doing stricter trials to test the drug’s efficacy in staving off infection in asymptomatic people at high-risk of contracting the virus. HCQ was one of four drug-combinations being tested in a global clinical trial, called Solidarity Trial, coordinated by the WHO. ICMT too said that there are no major side-effects of hydroxychloroquine, can be used in preventive treatment for COVID¬-19.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
90 27-05-2020 - Internal Security – PM reviews LAC situation – PM Modi reviewed the current situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the ongoing standoff with China with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat and the three Service Chiefs. The meeting comes a day before the biannual Army Commanders conference. Army chief Gen. Manoj Naravane made a detailed presentation on the standoff at various points of the LAC in eastern Ladakh, it has been learnt. Several rounds of talks on the ground up to the level of Division Commanders have failed to break the impasse.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
91 26-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – US bans entry from Brazil despite 4 times more cases – Tens of thousands of Americans flocked to beaches, pools, parks, bars and restaurants on Memorial Day weekend with little regard to social distancing even as the Trump administration banned entry of non-US citizens from Brazil and warned it would review traffic from other countries with high incidence of coronavirus infections. Citing the growing number of Covid-19 cases in Brazil, which now has the second largest number of infections with over 3,63,000 cases, the White House said the move was a “decisive action to protect our country”.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
92 26-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – WHO pauses its HCQ trial for Covid over safety concerns – The World Health Organization said that it will temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine — the antimalarial drug President Trump says he is taking — from its global study into experimental Covid-19 treatments, saying that its experts need to review all available evidence to date. In a press briefing, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in light of a paper published last week in the Lancet that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems, there would be “a temporary pause” on the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global clinical trial.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
93 26-05-2020 - Corporate World – HDFC Quarter 4 profit down by 22% – Mortgage lender HDFC reported a 22% drop in its net profit to Rs. 2,233 crore compared with the Rs. 2,862 crore in the same quarter of the previous financial year. The drop in profit is mainly due to higher provisioning for COVID-19 pandemic, lower dividend income and a lower profit from sale of investments. Dividend received in Q4FY20 was Rs. 2 crore compared with Rs. 537 crore.
(Indian Economy)
94 26-05-2020 - Afghan-Taliban - Afghan government frees 100 Taliban prisoners – Afghan authorities released 100 Taliban prisoners as part of the government’s response to a surprise, three-day ceasefire the insurgents called to mark the Id al-Fitr festival. The pause in fighting, only the second of its kind in Afghanistan’s nearly 19-year-old war, appeared to be holding on day two after the government welcomed the truce by announcing plans to release up to 2,000 Taliban inmates.
(Governance and Institutions)
95 26-05-2020 - US-China Relations - China warns U.S. of retaliation if punished for Hong Kong law – China threatened counter-measures against the U.S. if it was punished for plans to impose a sedition law on Hong Kong, that the business hub’s security chief hailed as a new tool that would defeat “terrorism”. Beijing plans to pass a new security law for Hong Kong that bans treason, subversion and sedition after months of massive, often-violent pro-democracy protests last year. But many Hong Kongers, business groups and Western nations fear the proposal could be a death blow to the city’s treasured freedoms and thousands took to the streets despite a ban on mass gatherings introduced to combat coronavirus.
(tion and Law, World Politics)
96 26-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Japan ends nationwide state of emergency with restrictions now lifted in Tokyo – Japan's nationwide state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic has been brought to an end after prime minister Shinzo Abe lifted restrictions in Tokyo and the four other remaining areas. Experts on a government-commissioned panel approved the lifting of the emergency in the capital, neighbouring Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures, and in Hokkaido to the north, which had remained under the emergency declaration after it was removed in most of Japan earlier this month. Japan, with about 16,600 confirmed cases and 839 deaths, has so far avoided the large outbreaks experienced in the US and Europe despite softer restrictions.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
97 26-05-2020 - Indian Economy – No reduction in fuel prices despite surplus supply – Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan described the situation prevailing in the oil market as ‘extraordinary’ even as he ruled out any fuel price cuts in India despite the supply glut, stating that the Union government had taken a ‘cautious and conscious’ decision to use the savings for welfare. Mr. Pradhan was also optimistic that price stabilisation was likely as more and more countries were trying to restart economic activity after lengthy lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Indian Economy)
98 26-05-2020 - Internal Security – Efforts are continuing to resolve the situation along the LAC with China – Efforts are continuing on a daily basis between military commanders of India and China on the ground, in addition to other channels of communication, to resolve the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Discussions were on daily at different levels on the ground, including at the Brigade Commander and Division Commander levels but tensions continue at various places along the LAC with both sides digging in with reinforcements, and a wait and watch situation was unfolding. The green top hill above the finger area of Pangong Tso (lake) and the Galwan Nalah area seems to be the latest friction point.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
99 26-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Large-scale return of migrant workers need aggressive COVID-19 testing – The Union Health Ministry has admitted that Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha, currently witnessing a large-scale return of migrant workers, and remote areas need aggressive COVID-19 testing capacity scale-up to clear any backlogs. The admission comes at a time when the country is among the top 10 hotspots of COVID-19 worldwide, adding approximately over 6,000 cases every 24 hours in the fourth phase of the national lockdown. The State health departments reported 6,125 cases and 151 deaths. This takes the total COVID-19 tally to 1,44,659 cases, including 79,959 active ones. The total death toll stands at 4,170.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
100 26-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Domestic air travel starts with half the flights forced to cancel – Airlines ferried more than 39,000 passengers on 532 flights as domestic air travel was resumed after two months. But a large number of passengers were left stranded as airlines were forced to cancel half the flights just hours before take-off due to poor co-ordination between the Centre and the States. Airlines were told to curtail their operations after Maharashtra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, with some of the busiest airports in the country — Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai — restricted the number of flights that could be operated. 
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
101 25-05-2020 - Indian Economy: Corporate World – Aditya Birla MF suspends fresh inflows into two debt schemes – Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund has temporarily suspended fresh investments in two of its debt schemes — Medium Term Plan and Credit Risk Fund. The fund house said that it had made significant gains in the two schemes, which would be realised by existing investors, and hence has stopped fresh investments so that the gains are not diluted.
(Indian Economy)
102 25-05-2020 - Hong Kong Protests – Thousands rally in Hong Kong against law – Hong Kong police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse thousands of people who rallied to protest against Beijing’s plan to impose national security laws on the city. In a return of the unrest that roiled Hong Kong last year, crowds thronged the Causeway Bay shopping area in defiance of curbs imposed to contain the coronavirus. Chants of “Hong Kong independence, the only way out,” echoed through the streets.
(Constitution and Law, Governance and Institutions)
103 25-05-2020 - Cold War 2.0 – Chinese Foreign Minister says Beijing is open to international probe led by the WHO – The United States is pushing relations with China to “the brink of a new Cold War,” China’s Foreign Minister said, rejecting Washington’s “lies” over the coronavirus while saying Beijing was open to an international effort to find its source. Keeping up the worsening war of words with Washington over the pandemic and a Beijing move to tighten control over Hong Kong, Wang Yi said the United States had been infected by a “political virus” compelling figures there to continually attack China. Long-standing friction between the two powers over trade, human rights and a range of other issues have been pushed to new heights since the virus outbreak.
(World Politics)
104 25-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Centre seeks efficacy of Ayurveda – The Union Health Ministry sought results of COVID-19 treatment using Ayurvedic medicines. This was following a visit by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to a dedicated COVID-19 health centre at the Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan (CBPACS), Najafgarh. Ayurveda is a traditional medicinal knowledge source from India and there is huge potential in it. Its inherent strength in holistic healing and wellbeing is being put to good use in treatment of the patients at this centre.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
105 25-05-2020 - Internal Security - No troops detained by China – Army – The Army “categorically denied” reports that Indian patrol teams had been detained by Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, during the current standoff. Tensions between India and China along the LAC have been rising for the past month, since People’s Liberation Army troops tried to disrupt road construction in the Ladakh sector; dozens of soldiers have been injured in incidents of jostling and pushing in at least four points of conflict. Officials have said that the skirmishes have been caused by “differing perceptions” of the LAC, which is not fully demarcated.
(Defence and Military)
106 25-05-2020 - Andhra Pradesh Gas leak incident – Seal LG Polymers plant: AP HC – The Andhra Pradesh High Court has directed that the LG Polymers plant in Visakhapatnam be sealed and no one, including company directors, be allowed to enter its premises. But the court permitted the committees formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Central and State governments to probe the incident, to make a note of their visits in registers maintained at the factory gate. The compliance report is to be filed by May 26 and cases listed for May 28.
(Constitution and Law, Governance and Institutions)
107 25-05-2020 - Naxalism - History-sheeter with Maoist links held – The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested a history-sheeter with a long record of armed robbery, who was allegedly involved in financing Maoist activities in Nepal. The accused, who has at least 30 cases to his name, would allegedly commit crimes in Maharashtra and send the proceeds of the crimes to Maoists in Nepal. Nepal, over the last one year, has witnessed an escalation in Maoist activities, including an attack on the office of a private telecom operator in February 2019 and string of bomb blasts in Kathmandu in May last year, the credit for which was claimed by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), led by Netra Bikram Chand.
(Terrorism)
108 25-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Special train attacked in Bihar – In two incidents in Bihar within a span of 24 hours, a special train from Haryana, carrying some 1,300 people home to the northeastern States, was attacked and 12 passengers on a bus from Madhya Pradesh were abused and threatened. The journey for the returnees from Haryana was incident-free until their train stopped at Danapur in Bihar. Trouble started when the passengers, mostly young persons from northeastern States, refused to let several people waiting on the platform into the train.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
109 25-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India now in top 10 – India reported the highest single-day spike so far of 7,097 COVID-19 cases, taking the overall tally to 1,38,482, according to reports from the State Health Departments. The number of active cases stood at 76,858, while 57,605 people have recovered. The death toll crossed 4,000, with 150 new fatalities. Data from Johns Hopkins University show that the total number of cases in India has surpassed that of Iran (with 1,35,701 confirmed infections). India now has the 10th highest number of confirmed cases worldwide.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
110 25-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Domestic Flights to resume after two months break – Amid growing uncertainty on the number of flights allowed by different States at specific airports and the health protocols to be followed by passengers at each of them, the Ministry of Civil Aviation held a meeting with airlines and airports to finalise routes that could be opened from. Except Andhra Pradesh which will start on 26/5 & West Bengal on 28/5, domestic flights will recommence across the country.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
111 22-05-2020 - Indian Economy: Corporate World – Aditya Birla MF suspends fresh inflows into two debt schemes – Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund has temporarily suspended fresh investments in two of its debt schemes — Medium Term Plan and Credit Risk Fund. The fund house said that it had made significant gains in the two schemes, which would be realised by existing investors, and hence has stopped fresh investments so that the gains are not diluted.
(Indian Economy)
112 22-05-2020 - Asia – Iran – With an eye on U.S. election, Iran tries a new tack – After years of increasing tensions that nearly led to war, Iran has moderated its approach to the West, shifting from a policy of provocation to one of limited cooperation. The change reflects an effort to avoid direct confrontation with the U.S. that the Iranians say could benefit President Donald Trump in the November election. Nowhere is the shift more evident than in Iraq, where Iran has backed a pro-American Prime Minister and ordered its proxy militias to cease their rocket attacks on U.S. forces.
(World Politics)
113 22-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – WHO records highest daily number of COVID-19 cases – The World Health Organization said it had registered a new daily record number of COVID-19 cases as it quickly neared the “tragic milestone” of five million total infections. The UN agency’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that on Tuesday, there were “1,06,000 cases reported to WHO — the most in a single day since the outbreak began” in December. The WHO was also getting to grips with US President Donald Trump’s reform ultimatum, giving the organisation 30 days to overhaul its operations otherwise its biggest contributor would freeze its funding and consider pulling out altogether.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
114 22-05-2020 - Asia – China - China plans security law for Hong Kong – China’s Parliament will consider a Bill that could limit opposition activity in Hong Kong, a spokesperson said, appearing to confirm speculation that China will sidestep the territory’s own lawmaking body in enacting legislation to crack down on activity Beijing considers subversive. Zhang Yesui said the National People’s Congress will deliberate a Bill on “establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.”.
(Constitution and Law)
115 22-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Over 2.37 lakh train tickets booked within a few hours – With the Railways opening online booking for some special trains, over 2.37 lakh tickets were booked within a few hours. The Railways will begin running 200 time-tabled trains from June 1, and the booking started at 10 a.m. Thursday. These trains will have both AC and non-AC coaches. The Railways said it would also restart reservation counters and allow bookings through Common Service Centres and ticketing agents in a graded manner.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
116 22-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Congress launches Kisan Nyay Scheme  – Launching the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana in Chhattisgarh through video conferencing to mark the 29th death anniversary, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said this was a true tribute to the late Prime Minister. The party also announced that instead of spending on advertisements to mark the occasion, it would spend the amount on helping migrants who have borne the brunt of the prolonged lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
117 22-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Watch pujas live, get prasad delivered home – The devout, who have not been able to visit temples on account of the lockdown, can now opt for a live telecast of puja proceedings at chosen temples through the web and Facebook. The Muzrai Department, in-charge of religious and charitable endowments in Karnataka, has decided to provide such a facility by the end of this month, according to Muzrai Minister Kota Srinivas Poojari. He told reporters in Bengaluru that the government was also considering allowing online pujas, which the devotees can pre-book.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
118 22-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Govt. announces price range based on duration of flights – The Centre set a price range for air tickets, which would be a function of the flight duration when commercial airlines resume operations on May 25. The scale has been divided into seven categories, with the lowest range defined for flights of less than 40 minutes and the highest category set for the longest domestic flights of up to 210 minutes. The Ministry of Civil Aviation, which announced the price range as part of the guidelines prepared ahead of the resumption of flights, laid down several other norms, including a mandatory check in by travellers either online or on the phone before reaching the airport.

(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
119 22-05-2020 - India-China Relations – PLA blocking Indian patrols in Ladakh, Sikkim, says MEA – New Delhi rejected Beijing’s claim that Indian troops trespassed into Chinese territory, and accused the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of “hindering” patrols by Indian soldiers. In the first such statement after weeks of a stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers at four points along the boundary in Sikkim and Ladakh, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also told China that “peace and tranquility in border areas” is an “essential prerequisite” to developing bilateral relations.
(Governance and Institutions, World Politics)
120 22-05-2020 - Natural Disasters – Amphan kills 72 in West Bengal, brings life to a halt – The death toll in Super Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal increased to 72, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday. Fifteen of the deceased were from Kolkata. Deaths were reported from eight districts. South 24 Parganas recorded the maximum of 18 deaths, followed by North 24 Parganas with 17 deaths. People also died in Howrah, Hooghly, Purba Medinipur and Nadia. The deaths were mainly due to the falling of trees, electrocution and the collapse of poorly built houses.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
121 21-05-2020 - Sri Lankan Army war crimes issue – Ayushman Bharat scales 1-crore treatments mark – Over one crore treatments worth Rs 13,412 crore were provided under Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme since its launch in September 2018, even as hospitalisation was heavily impacted during April and May due to the lockdown amid the pandemic. The landmark saw PM Modi tweeting his interaction with Pooja Thapa from Meghalaya, who was beneficiary no. 1 crore. He also thanked medical personnel and hospitals which have been a part of the staterun insurance scheme that supports the poor. The scheme – which has a significant acceptance in the private sector – has made strides in providing testing and treatment to Covid patients.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
122 21-05-2020 - International Relations – Military, diplomatic talks on with China to end stand-off – India is trying to resolve the ongoing troop confrontation with China in some stretches along the unresolved border in eastern Ladakh as well as Sikkim, which has become the most serious since the major Doklam face-off in 2017, through both military and diplomatic channels. Sources on Wednesday said “flag meetings” and “military hotline talks” are being held at multiple-levels with the field commanders of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to de-escalate the heightened tensions and rival troop build-ups along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
(Defence and Military)
123 21-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Cabinet okays NBFC liquidity plan – The Union Cabinet approved a Rs. 30,000-crore special liquidity scheme for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and housing finance companies aimed at improving the cash position of these entities. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) would be set up by a public sector bank to manage a Stressed Asset Fund (SAF) whose special securities would be guaranteed by the Government of India and purchased by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) only. The proceeds of sale of such securities would be used by the SPV to acquire short-term debt of NBFCs/HFCs. The scheme will be administered by the Department of Financial Services, which will issue the detailed guidelines.
(Indian Economy)
124 21-05-2020 - Middle East - Israel and Iran take their battle online – Israel was behind a cyberattack on May 9 that disrupted operations at a major port in Iran, according to high-ranking intelligence officials and experts in West Asia who are kept informed of covert Israeli actions in the region. The attack on the computer systems at the Shahid Rajaee port in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz was limited in scope, creating traffic jams of delivery trucks and some delays in shipments but causing no substantial or lasting damage.
(World Politics)
125 21-05-2020 - Middle East - Israel’s annexation plan has derailed Oslo accord - Abbas – Raising the stakes over Israel’s drive to annex land the Palestinians have long claimed, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority angrily declared it free of its commitments under the Oslo peace process, including security understandings that have protected Israelis and preserved the authority’s political hold over the occupied West Bank. For a change, several senior Palestinian officials insisted, Mr. Abbas was not making a mere threat.
(Social Issues)
126 21-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Cabinet approves ₹3 lakh crore funding for MSMEs  – The Union Cabinet approved additional funding of up to Rs. 3 lakh crore to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) that was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week as part of the Rs. 20 lakh crore economic package. Under the scheme, 100% guarantee coverage will be provided by National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Limited (NCGTC) to eligible MSMEs and interested borrowers of the MUDRA scheme, in the form of a Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line (GECL) facility, the government said.
(Indian Economy)
127 21-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - U.K. trial to test efficacy of five drugs – With a range of approved drugs now being tested on COVID-19 patients, there is no clarity on which one will turn out to be more effective in treatment compared with the standard hospital care that all patients receive. A recovery trial aims to study the effectiveness of four different drugs and anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab for those with worsening clinical symptoms. The recovery trial, coordinated by the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, will randomise patients to receive either standard of care or one of the four approved drugs. The drugs being tested are HIV drugs Lopinavir (400 mg)-Ritonavir (100 mg), anti-inflammatory corticosteroid (dexamethasone), anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin (500 mg).
(Healthcare and Medicine)
128 21-05-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Locusts cross Thar desert to invade 16 districts in Rajasthan – The invasion of locusts had started from the India-Pakistan border on April 11 and they have now crossed the Thar desert and affected 16 of the 33 districts in Rajasthan, taking advantage of favourable wind conditions with the onset of summer. Locust swarms have travelled far in search of food because of lack of vegetation in the agricultural fields after the rabi crop harvest. State Agriculture Minister Lal Chand Kataria described the locust attack as the biggest threat in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, while giving instructions for controlling the spread of insects with the cooperation of farmers and through effective surveys.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
129 21-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Domestic flights to resume on May 25 – Domestic flights across the country will resume on May 25 after a two-month ban. The government will also cap airfares for different routes. The Ministry of Civil Aviation will meet officials of airlines to finalise modalities. Domestic flights have been grounded since March 25 after the government banned air travel to check the spread of COVID-19. A decision on international flights is likely to take time.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
130 21-05-2020 - Natural Disasters – Amphan batters West Bengal, Odisha – Three persons were killed as super cyclonic storm Amphan made landfall near Sagar Islands in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, while a baby died in Bhadrak district of Odisha and a woman drowned in Kendrapara. Thousands of kutcha houses in the coastal parts of West Bengal were damaged. Embankments were breached in the low-level areas because of the massive storm surge. Preliminary reports said one person each died in Minakha and Basirhat of North 24 Parganas district and a third in Howrah.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
131 20-05-2020 - Sri Lankan Army war crimes issue – ‘Sri Lanka will not tolerate targeting of war heroes’– Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the country will not hesitate to exit international bodies that continuously “targeted” its soldiers. “If any international body or organisation continuously target our country and our war heroes, using baseless allegations, I will also not hesitate to withdraw Sri Lanka from such bodies or organisations,” he said, speaking at the11th anniversary of the end of the civil war, marked as “Ranaviru [War Heroes] Day” in the island’s south.
(Defence and Military, People and Personalities)
132 20-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – China tests drug that aims to stop pandemic sans vaccine – A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the coronavirus pandemic to a halt. The outbreak first emerged in China late last year before spreading across the world, prompting an international race to find treatments and vaccines. A drug being tested by scientists at China’s prestigious Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the virus.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
133 20-05-2020 - Afghanistan-Taliban issue – We are not a proxy of any country, says Taliban – The Taliban is not a proxy of any country and it does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, the group’s political spokesperson said. He spoke about India's policy on Afghanistan soon after the deputy leader of Taliban's Political Office in Qatar, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, was reported to have accused India of playing a “negative role” inside Afghanistan. Part of India's concern over the Taliban’s opinions, especially on Kashmir, stems from the fact that South Block still considers it a terror group and has refused to engage it in a dialogue.
(Social Issues)
134 20-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Reform or face fund cuts, Trump tells WHO – As the World Health Assembly met virtually to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump told the World Health Organization (WHO) that the U.S. will make permanent its funding cuts to the organisation and consider leaving it, if it did not commit to “major substantial reform” within the next 30 days.
(Governance and Institutions)
135 20-05-2020 - Indian Economy - EPF rate cut to benefit employees, employers – The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) said the employees’ take-home salaries would increase while the employers’ liabilities would reduce for May, June and July as the Labour Ministry had notified a 2% cut in the EPF contribution rate. Announced as part of the Centre’s economic relief package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the contribution rates for employees and employers had been reduced to 10% of wages plus dearness allowance from 12%. The reduction would not be applicable to the Central and State public sector enterprises or any other government-controlled establishment, the EPFO said in a statement.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
136 20-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Delhi sees biggest spike in a day with 500 cases – Five hundred new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Capital in the past 24 hours, taking the total number to 10,554, said a government health bulletin. This is the biggest single-day jump in the number of cases in the city so far. Also, six more deaths were reported, pushing the toll to 166. Of the total cases, 4,750 people have recovered and 5,638 are undergoing treatment. Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department Padmini Singla said in an order that 300-400 new cases were reported every day, but equivalent number of containment zones were not being declared by the District Magistrates. She directed the DMs to create containment zones as per the guidelines.     
(Healthcare and Medicine)
137 20-05-2020 - Andhra Pradesh gas leak case - SC declines to interfere with NGT order – The Supreme Court did not interfere on Tuesday with an order passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which ordered LG Polymers to pay Rs. 50 crore as interim compensation for the gas leak at its Visakhapatnam plant and set up a five-member fact-finding committee to inquire into the incident leading to the death of several innocents.
(Constitution and Law)
138 20-05-2020 - Jammu and Kashmir – Separatist leader’s son among 2 militants killed in encounter – Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) chairman and separatist leader Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai’s son was among the two Hizb-ul Mujahideen militants killed in an 11-hour-long operation in a congested locality of Srinagar’s old city. Four security personnel were injured, and over 10 houses were damaged. Two rifles were recovered from the encounter site.
(Defence and Military, Terrorism)
139 20-05-2020 - Natural Disasters – 3 lakh evacuated as Amphan hurtles towards Bengal coast – Super cyclone Amphan, which has weakened slightly, is expected to make landfall between Digha in West Bengal and Hatiya Islands in Bangladesh, the India Meteorological Department (MD) said. About 3,35,000 people in West Bengal and Odisha have been evacuated. The cyclone lay about 360 km south of Paradip in Odisha and 510 km south-southwest of Digha. According to the IMD's current estimate, Amphan would temper down to a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ when it makes landfall but it would continue to generate strong winds at 155-165 kmph and inflict severe damage on the Odisha and West Bengal coasts. Telephone towers, powerlines, thatched huts and buildings with weak foundations are likely to be damaged and hoardings could become “flying like projectiles,” Director-General IMD M Mohapatra warned at a press conference.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
140 20-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Health Ministry issues new guidelines for workplaces – The Union Health Ministry announced fresh workplace guidelines. With the easing of the lockdown measures and with more offices/workplaces starting operations, the Ministry directed that anyone diagnosed as a suspected/confirmed case of COVID-19 should immediately inform the office authorities and isolate themselves. While there was no need to close the entire office building/halt work if one or two cases were detected, a large outbreak would require that the building be shut down for 48 hours and disinfected, it stated. The guidelines make it mandatory to maintain a physical distance of at least one metre to be followed at all times along with use of face covers/masks.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
141 19-05-2020 - China-Hong Kong – After scuffles, Hong Kong MPs push ahead with China anthem Bill – Hong Kong’s legislature plunged into chaotic scuffles for a second time this month, as pro-Beijing lawmakers took control of a key committee, paving the way for a debate on a Bill that would criminalise abuse of China’s national anthem. Pro-democracy legislators charged at security guards surrounding pro-establishment lawmaker Chan Kin-Por, who had taken the chairman’s seat in the meeting against procedural objections by the Opposition. Guards hauled several legislators out of the chamber, some kicking and shouting. Some tried leaping over the guards from bench tops to take back the chairman’s seat only to be forced back.
(Regional Politics)
142 19-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Europe reopens widely, seeks to salvage summer vacations – Europe reopened more widely, allowing people into the Acropolis in Athens, shops in Italy, markets and museums in Belgium, golf courses in Ireland and beer gardens in Bavaria while its leaders discussed how to salvage Europe’s hallowed summer vacations. Greece reopened the Acropolis in Athens and other ancient sites, along with high schools, shopping malls and mainland travel. Paving stickers were used as markers to keep visitors apart outside the Acropolis. Tourists were local, for the country still has a 14-day quarantine for arrivals, and travel to the Greek islands remains broadly restricted.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
143 19-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Xi defends China’s ‘open’ virus response  – Chinese President Xi Jinping said that Beijing has been “transparent” throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and offered to share a vaccine as soon as one was available — as well as $2 billion in aid. Governments including the U.S. and Australia have called in recent weeks for an investigation into the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has become a flashpoint in deteriorating tensions between Washington and Beijing. Both U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have accused China of a lack of transparency over the issue, and repeatedly pushed the theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese maximum-security laboratory.

(Healthcare and Medicine)
144 19-05-2020 - India Education - CBSE exam timetable released – The Class 12 examinations of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) postponed nationwide because of COVID-19 and Class 10 exams in northeast Delhi affected by riots will be held from July 1 to 15. Issuing safety instructions for the candidates, the CBSE said they should carry hand sanitiser in a transparent bottle, cover the mouth and nose with a mask or cloth and follow physical distancing norms. Parents should guide their children about the precautions to be taken and also ensure they are not sick.
(Education)
145 19-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - USAID to fund 200 ventilators for India – India will take delivery of 200 ventilators donated by the U.S. within the next month. The ventilators, which will be paid for by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will arrive in May and June and the final delivery schedule notified next week. While the government has not commented on the value of the donation, it is likely to be funded by an additional grant of $3 million that the USAID made last month. The ventilators, which were built for use in the U.S., are being “repurposed” for donations to several countries, including India.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
146 19-05-2020 - Indian Politics/COVID-19 Updates – Congress slams economic package – Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said that the Centre’s “economic stimulus was hopelessly inadequate that added insult to injury”, and claimed that the actual economic package amounted to Rs. 1.86 lakh crore, or 0.91% of the Gross Domestic Product. Separately, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ridiculed the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as a symbol of the UPA’s failure but the same scheme had been given aid by his government to help the rural poor.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
147 19-05-2020 - Natural Disasters - Odisha, West Bengal brace for Amphan – The storm system in the Bay of Bengal, Amphan, developed into a super cyclone and is expected to make landfall along the West Bengal-Bangladesh coast, according to the India Meteorological Department. Currently, Amphan is located about 730 km south of Paradip in Odisha, 890 km south-southwest of Digha in West Bengal and 1,010 km south-southwest of Khepupara in Bangladesh. Windspeeds are expected to hit 240 kmph and extensive damage along the coast is expected in Odisha and West Bengal. Cyclone Phailin in 2013 and the super cyclone of 1999 — both of which hit coastal Odisha — have been the most powerful cyclones in the Bay of Bengal in the past two decades in terms of windspeed.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
148 19-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Oxford vaccine fails to shield monkeys from virus – A high-profile potential vaccine for COVID-19 being tested by researchers at Oxford University failed to protect vaccinated monkeys from being infected by the virus but the test animals appeared to be protected from pneumonia. The vaccine candidate, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, being tested is a weakened form of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that affects chimpanzees but has been neutered to prevent replication in humans.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
149 19-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Maharashtra topped the nationwide tally with more than 35,000 confirmed cases and 1,249 deaths, followed by Tamil Nadu with 11,760 confirmed cases and 81 deaths. Gujarat has reported 11,746 confirmed cases, but its death toll is higher than Tamil Nadu at 694. Mumbai reported 1,185 fresh cases and 23 more deaths, taking the total cases in the city to 21,152 and fatalities to 757. According to the Union Health Ministry, the country has now registered a jump of over 10,000 cases in the past two days — the highest so far in 48 hours.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
150 19-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India’s virus tally crosses 1 lakh; fatality count mounts to 3,157 – India’s tally of COVID-19 cases crossed the one lakh-mark, with 5,079 new infections taking the total to 1,00,734, according to data from the State Health Departments. Of these 58,360 are active cases, while 39,217 persons have recovered from the disease. The country recorded 136 more deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to 3,157. The average number of new cases everyday since May 11 has gone up to 4,077, while the average number of fatalities per day for the period is 115.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
151 18-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Data on India’s services trade in 2019-20 released – Trade surplus moved up 2.1% to US$ 80.07 billion. Exports increased by 7.8% to US$ 220.73 billion. Imports moved up 11.3% to US$ 140.65 billion.
(Indian Economy)
152 18-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Miscellaneous –
i.    Defence minister approves launch of Rs. 400 crore Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS).
ii.  ONGC awards 49 marginal oil and gas fields to 7 successful bidders.
iii. World Bank approves USD 1 billion ‘Accelerating India’s COVID-19 Social Protection Response Program’
iv. Rajesh Goel appointed Director General of NAREDCO (National Real Estate Development Council).
(Indian Economy)
153 18-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Lockdown extended– National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) extends the ongoing countrywide lockdown to combat the COVID-19 spread till May 31. Prohibition on all public gatherings, closure of schools, malls and restaurants, and suspension of flights and Metro services will remain in force till May 31.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
154 18-05-2020 - World Politics: Israel - Israel swears in unity government – Israel’s Parliament swore in its new unity government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his former rival Benny Gantz, ending the longest political crisis in the nation’s history. Lawmakers in the 120-person parliament, the Knesset, formally approved the three-year coalition government with 73 voting for and 49 against. One member was absent for the vote. Addressing the Knesset before the vote, Mr. Netanyahu vowed to push on with controversial plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.
(World Politics)
155 18-05-2020 - Asia - Afghanistan-Taliban - Afghan President, rival sign power sharing deal – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and political rival Abdullah Abdullah have signed a power-sharing agreement two months after both declared themselves the winner of last September’s presidential election. Mr. Ghani spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tweeted that a political deal between Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah had been signed, in which Mr. Ghani would remain President of the war-torn nation. The deal calls for Abdullah to lead the country’s National Reconciliation High Council and some members of Abdullah’s team would be included in Ghani’s Cabinet.
(People and Personalities)
156 18-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - China expert warns of a second wave – Mainland China reported five new confirmed COVID-19 cases for May 16, down from eight the previous day. Two of the five confirmed cases were so-called imported infections, while three were locally transmitted in the northeastern Chinese city of Jilin. The number of confirmed cases in the mainland now stands at 82,947 and the death toll at 4,634. China does not include people who have been tested and found to be asymptomatic carriers in its tally of confirmed cases.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
157 18-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - It’s a Rs. 3.22 lakh crore package: Congress  – The actual quantum of the Atmanirbhar stimulus package announced by the government is not Rs. 20 lakh crore or 10% of the country’s GDP as claimed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi but merely Rs. 3.22 lakh crore, which is 1.6% of the GDP, the Congress said, hours after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the final tranche.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
158 18-05-2020 - Operation Samudra Setu Updates - India surpasses China’s COVID-19 tally – INS Jalashwa arrived at the Kochi port from the Maldives with 588 Indians stranded in the island country following the COVID-19 lockdown. This is the second trip by INS Jalashwa, which had earlier reached Kochi with 698 Indians from the Maldives on May 10. Naval vessel INS Magar too had evacuated 300 Indians stranded in the Maldives and brought them to Kochi on May 12 as part of the ongoing Samudra Setu mission to evacuate by sea Indians stranded in different parts of the world. Of the 588 passengers, 487 are from Kerala, said a communication from the Public Relations Department.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
159 18-05-2020 - Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan stimulus package/Indian Economy - Centre throws open all sectors to private players – The Centre has agreed to demands from States to hike their borrowing limits from 3% to 5% of their GDP in light of the COVID-19 crisis, but on the condition that they implement specific reforms. The fifth and final tranche of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan stimulus package, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also included an additional Rs. 40,000 crore allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), and a new policy welcoming private companies into every sector of industry, while limiting public sector enterprises to strategic sectors only. Corporate enterprises were also offered some relief via changes to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and the Companies Act. The total package amounts to almost Rs. 21 lakh crore by the Centre’s accounting, but is heavy on credit-related measures, including Rs. 8 lakh crore worth of liquidity enhancing measures by the RBI.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
160 18-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Lockdown extended; States will take a call on infection zones – The Centre extended the nationwide lockdown, first imposed on March 24, for the fourth time till May 31 while giving considerable flexibility to the States in deciding red, green and orange zones of COVID-19 intensity. The Ministry of Home Affairs, in its fresh guidelines for Lockdown 4.0, eased restrictions considerably by allowing inter-State movement of buses and cars, opening of all shops, except those in malls and containment zones, and the delivery of non-essential items through online shopping platforms. Barber shops and salons can also open. The 33% restriction on workforce in offices has also been done away with.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
161 16-05-2020 -  World Economy/US-China Relations/COVID-19 Updates – U.S. could cut ties with China over pandemic, warns Trump – U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to cut ties with China over its role in the spread of the coronavirus, as the global death toll from the disease topped 3,00,000. The Trump administration also said on Friday that it would restrict the ability of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, which it considers a national security risk, to develop semiconductors abroad with U.S. technology.
(Healthcare and Medicine, World Economy)
162 16-05-2020 - Defence – Coast Guard ship count hits 150 – A ship and two interceptor boats (IB) were commissioned into the Coast Guard in Goa via videoconference from the national capital by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. This marks a landmark for the force: it now has 150 ships and boats and 62 aircraft. Ship ICGS Sachet is the first in a series of five offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) being built by the Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL). The IBs, C-450 and C-451, are designed & built by the Larsen & Toubro Shipyard, Hazira. The 30-metre long boats are capable of achieving speeds in excess of 45 knots and designed for high-speed interception, close patrol and low intensity operations. The 105-metre long ICGS Sachet displaces approximately 2,350 tons and is propelled by two 9,100 KW diesel engines designed to attain a maximum speed of 26 knots, with an endurance of 6,000 nautical miles.
(Defence and Military)
163 16-05-2020 - Indian Economy – Rs. 1 lakh crore farm infra fund to be financed by NABARD: FM – With supply chain disruptions during COVID-19 revealing critical gaps in agricultural infrastructure and logistics systems, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced plans for a Rs. 1 lakh crore farm infrastructure fund as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan stimulus package. The third tranche of the stimulus package also included plans to strengthen infrastructure in food processing, fisheries, animal husbandry, horticulture, herbal cultivation and beekeeping with a total funding of Rs. 50,000 crore, including funds allocated earlier in the budget.
(Indian Economy)
164 16-05-2020 - Indian Economy - CBDT notifies reduction in TDS/TCS – Following Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of a reduction in the rate of tax deducted at source (TDS) and tax collected at source (TCS) for non-salaried payments, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) notified revised rates that will be applicable from May 14, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Clarifying on why the TDS rate had not been reduced for the salaried class, Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said TDS was deducted from salary after considering various eligible deductions such as 80C of the salaried person. This, he said, had been done to ensure that the salaried individual did not have to bear the burden of paying higher taxes at year end.
(Indian Economy)
165 16-05-2020 - Asia Politics - Israeli govt. formation delayed – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz, postponed the swearing-in of their controversial new government as the Israeli leader rushed to quell infighting within his Likud party. In a joint announcement, the two men said they would hold a swearing-in ceremony to give Mr. Netanyahu more time to hand out coveted Cabinet appointments to members of his party. After three deadlocked and divisive elections, and a year and a half of political paralysis, Israel had hoped to swear in the new government.
(World Politics)
166 16-05-2020 - Indian Economy/Geography - Monsoon will arrive on June 5 – The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast a delay in the arrival of the monsoon over Kerala while Skymet, a private forecaster, expects it to arrive earlier. The difference in the arrival dates by both agencies is as much a week. The normal date of onset for the State is June 1. In a statement on Friday, the IMD set a date of June 5 whereas Skymet, on its website, has forecast May 28.

(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
167 16-05-2020 - Society/COVID-19 Updates - Azan ban in three U.P. districts overturned – The Allahabad High Court allowed azan in three districts of Uttar Pradesh — Ghazipur, Hathras and Farrukhabad — where it had been stopped by the district administration citing the Home Ministry’s lockdown rules. Azan can be recited by a muezzin from minarets of the mosques by human voice without using any amplifying device and such recitation cannot be hindered with under the pretext of violation of the guidelines issued by the state, to contain the pandemic — COVID-19.
(Constitution and Law, Healthcare and Medicine)
168 16-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - India surpasses China’s COVID-19 tally – India’s COVID-19 case tally shot past China, with a total of 85,761 cases, including 53,219 active ones, according to data from the State Health Departments. The death toll nationwide stood at 2,674. The country has registered over 3,600 cases and over 100 deaths on average everyday since May 8. According to the health ministry, India registered 3,967 more COVID-19 cases and 100 deaths on Friday, taking the total number of cases to 81,970 and the nationwide toll to 2,649.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
169 16-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Lockdown likely to be extended till May 30 in New Delhi – The lockdown is likely to be extended till May 30 with considerable relaxations in the green and orange zones. An announcement to this effect is likely to be made. An official said lockdown 4.0 would be more about implementing its “spirit” than imposing restrictions. The current third phase of the lockdown, which was imposed first on March 24 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, ends on May 17. Metro rail services in cities would continue to remain suspended as most routes fall in the containment zones, which would continue to be under “curfew-like” conditions.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
170 16-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates/Indian Economy - New law for contract farming – Making long-pending agricultural marketing reforms the centrepiece of the third tranche of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan economic stimulus package, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced plans to enact a central law to permit barrier-free inter-State trade of farm commodities and ensure a legal framework to facilitate contract farming. The third tranche also included plans to invest Rs. 1.5 lakh crore to build farm-gate infrastructure and support logistics needs for fishworkers, livestock farmers, vegetable growers, beekeepers and related activities, although this includes some previously budgeted money and extensions of existing schemes.
(Constitution and Law, Healthcare and Medicine, Indian Economy)
171 15-05-2020 - Society and Health – Recently, scientists from IIT (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad and CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (Kolkata) have developed the Z-scan method to monitor the origin as well as the progression of Parkinson's disease in human beings. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system. It damages nerve cells in the brain dropping the levels of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that sends behavioural signals from the brain to the body.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
172 15-05-2020 - Environment and Ecology – According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) report, the rate of forest loss has declined in the period of 1990-2020. The FRA is released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FRA 2020 is based on the assessment of more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories in the period of 1990–2020. Total forest area: The world’s total forest area is 4.06 billion hectares (bha), which is 31% of the total land area. This area is equivalent to 0.52 hectares per person. Top countries in forest cover — the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China constituted more than 54% of the world’s forests.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
173 15-05-2020 - Environment and Ecology - Recently Government of Uttar Pradesh has released Gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) in the Ghaghara river for the conservation and protection in natural habitat. Natural Habitat: Fresh waters of the northern part of India. Gharials, sometimes called gavials, are a type of Asian crocodilian distinguished by their long, thin snouts which resembles a pot (ghara in Hindi). Population of Gharials are a good indicator of clean river water.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
174 15-05-2020 - Indian Economy - CBDT notifies reduction in TDS/TCS – Following Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of a reduction in the rate of tax deducted at source (TDS) and tax collected at source (TCS) for non-salaried payments, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) notified revised rates that will be applicable from May 14, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Clarifying on why the TDS rate had not been reduced for the salaried class, Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said TDS was deducted from salary after considering various eligible deductions such as 80C of the salaried person. This, he said, had been done to ensure that the salaried individual did not have to bear the burden of paying higher taxes at year end.

(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
175 15-05-2020 - Asia Politics - Israeli govt. formation delayed – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz, postponed the swearing-in of their controversial new government as the Israeli leader rushed to quell infighting within his Likud party. In a joint announcement, the two men said they would hold a swearing-in ceremony to give Mr. Netanyahu more time to hand out coveted Cabinet appointments to members of his party. After three deadlocked and divisive elections, and a year and a half of political paralysis, Israel had hoped to swear in the new government.
(Governance and Institutions, People and Personalities)
176 15-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Virus may never go away, warns WHO – The European Union’s medicines agency suggested that a vaccine for the COVID-19 could be ready in year, even as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the disease may never go away. World leaders past and present have insisted that any eventual vaccines and treatments should be made available to everyone free of charge, with the global death toll from the disease nearing 300,000. The pandemic has caused massive social and economic upheaval across the planet and while some nations have begun easing punishing lockdowns, fears of a second wave have kept many businesses shuttered and people confined to their homes.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
177 15-05-2020 - India-Sino Relations - India reminds China of claims over Gilgit-Baltistan – The recent incidents of face-off between the troops of India and China are neither correlated nor have any connection with other global or local activities, Army chief Gen. Manoj Naravane said. The statement was supplemented by official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava who reminded China about India’s claims over Gilgit-Baltistan where China has teamed up with Pakistan to build the Diamer-Bhasha dam.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
178 15-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Work from home may stay for govt. staff – Post lockdown, the Union government will continue staggered and variable work hours for its employees with the Personnel Ministry floating a draft consultation paper on best work-from-home practices. The Department of Personnel and Training may provide the option of work from home to eligible officers and other employees for 15 days a year as a matter of policy, the paper said. The department asked the Ministries and departments to send in their suggestions by May 21.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
179 15-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Doubling time slows to 13.9 days – India recorded another 3,722 COVID-19 cases and 134 deaths on Thursday, pushing the total number of cases to 78,003 and deaths to 2,549, according to the Union Health Ministry. The country has registered an average of over 3500 new cases every day since May 7. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in the last three days, the doubling time had slowed down to 13.9 days, while the doubling time in the past 14 days was 11.1 days.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
180 15-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates/Indian Economy - Migrant workers to get free foodgrains – A major focus of the second tranche of the economic stimulus package announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is to provide free foodgrains for the next two months to migrant workers who do not have ration cards. The Centre will spend Rs. 3,500 crore for this purpose. Quoting numbers from State governments, Ms. Sitharaman said there were an estimated eight crore migrant workers who had been housed in government- and privately run relief camps across the country since the lockdown but economists said this intervention was too little, too late, and that the free foodgrain provision should have been universalised to deal with widespread distress.
(Healthcare and Medicine, Indian Economy)
181 14-05-2020 - Afghanistan-Taliban Issue – New-borns among 13 dead in Kabul hospital attack – Gunmen attacked a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul, where the international humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders runs a maternity clinic, killing 13 people, including two newborn babies. In a separate attack the same day, a suicide bomber struck the funeral of a police commander, attended by government officials and a member of Parliament, in the eastern province of Nangahar, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack. The Taliban denied involvement in both.
(Terrorism)
182 14-05-2020 - Arts and Culture – COVID-19 themed dance by Paris Laxmi – A Tamil song written by a poet in Chennai, composed by a musician in Malaysia, and sung by a Carnatic vocalist based at Kochi has found beautiful expression in dance through a Frenchwoman living in the central Kerala town of Vaikom. The song about man’s fight against COVID-19 was released by actor Mohanlal on his Facebook page. Watching the superbly choreographed and executed piece of dance by Paris Laxmi, a Bharatanatyam dancer and actress who has made Kerala her home, one would hardly think that the whole thing was put together during the lockdown.
(Art Culture Literature)
183 14-05-2020 - Indian Economy: Corporate – Maruti profit skids as sales take a hit – The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India posted a year-on-year decline of 27.7% in consolidated net profit to Rs. 1,322.3 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 2020. The company had posted a net profit of Rs. 1,830.8 crore in the January-March 2019 quarter. Revenue from operations stood at Rs. 17,187.3 crore, down 20.6% from the year- ago period. The company said it sold a total of 3,85,025 vehicles during the fourth quarter, lower by 16% over the same period previous year. In the domestic market, the sales were down 16% to 3,60,428 vehicles, while exports fell nearly 17% to 24,597 vehicles.
(Indian Economy)
184 14-05-2020 - Israel-Palestine Issue - Pompeo meets Netanyahu to discuss West Bank annexation – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, as Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian teen in a clash with stone-throwers in the occupied territory. Mr. Pompeo’s brief visit came at a tense time, as Israeli troops searched for the killers of a soldier killed a day earlier by a rock dropped from a rooftop during an army raid of a West Bank village.
(World Politics)
185 14-05-2020 - US Presidential Elections - Trump aide Kushner hints at delay in poll, then backtracks – President Donald Trump’s aide and son in law Jared Kushner said he couldn’t guarantee the U.S. presidential election will take place on time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic — only to walk back his comment. The election is scheduled for November 3 by law and the White House has no authority to make a change. However, Mr. Kushner’s remark touched a nerve as Mr. Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden head into the increasingly tense final six months of campaigning.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
186 14-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Army proposes 3-year stint for civilians – In a first of its kind proposal, the Army plans to take civilians on a three-year “Tour of Duty” (ToD) or short service” on a trial basis to serve as officers and in other ranks initially for a limited number of vacancies which will be expanded later. This is expected to result in significant reduction in the expenditure on pay and pensions and free up funds for the Army’s modernisation. The overall purpose of the ToD concept is ‘internship/temporary experience’ and so there will be no requirement of attractive severance packages, resettlement courses, professional encashment training leave, ex-servicemen status, ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme for ToD officers and other ranks.
(Defence and Military)
187 14-05-2020 - Indian Economy - CAPF canteens to go swadeshi – A day after PM N. Modi appealed to people to use locally made products, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that all canteens of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) would only sell swadeshi or products made in India. Mr. Shah said on Twitter that a decision had been taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that all CAPF canteens, which cater to around 10 lakh personnel and 50 lakh families, would sell only products made in India. The order will come into effect from June 1. Presently, there are 119 master canteens that also double as warehouses and more than 1,700 subsidiary canteens that function as retail outlets.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
188 14-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - $3.6 mn in U.S. funding to Indian labs may be delayed – A decision by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to donate $3.6 million to Indian laboratories and research agencies to assist in countering the COVID-19 pandemic could run into delays, given that the agency has been placed on a “watch list” since December 2019. The U.S. Embassy issued a release saying the CDC would commit $3.6 million as an “initial tranche of funding” to India’s response to the pandemic.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
189 14-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - India records 3,525 more virus cases – India reported a spike of 3,525 COVID-19 cases and 122 deaths, taking the total number of cases to 74,281 and deaths to 2,415. The country has 47,480 active cases. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the testing capacity had increased to one lakh a day. According to the State Health Departments, the number of positive cases is 77,553 and the death toll is 2,528. Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu continue to have the most number of confirmed cases.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
190 14-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates/Indian Economy - Major stimulus package for MSMEs – Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs. 3 lakh crore collateral free loan scheme for businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as part of a ₹20 lakh crore economic stimulus package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. For salaried workers and taxpayers, some relief was provided in the form of an extended deadline for income tax returns for financial year 2019-20, with the due date now pushed to November 30, 2020. The rates of tax deduction at source (TDS) and tax collection at source (TCS) have been cut by 25% for the next year, while statutory provident fund (PF) payments have been reduced from 12% to 10% for both employers and employees for the next three months.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
191 13-05-2020 - Afghanistan-Taliban Issue – New-borns among 13 dead in Kabul hospital attack – Gunmen attacked a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul, where the international humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders runs a maternity clinic, killing 13 people, including two newborn babies. In a separate attack the same day, a suicide bomber struck the funeral of a police commander, attended by government officials and a member of Parliament, in the eastern province of Nangahar, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack. The Taliban denied involvement in both.
(Terrorism)
192 13-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Wuhan to test entire population after new virus cluster emerges – Wuhan plans to conduct COVID-19 tests on the Chinese city’s entire population after new cases emerged for the first time in weeks in the cradle of the global pandemic. Officials have been ordered to submit plans to administer nucleic acid tests on all residents in the city of 11 million people, according to an official notice carried by news outlets.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
193 13-05-2020 - Malnutrition in India – India may miss nutrition targets – India is among 88 countries that are likely to miss global nutrition targets by 2025, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2020 released It also identified the country as one with the highest rates of domestic inequalities in malnutrition. In 2012, the World Health Assembly identified six nutrition targets for maternal, infant and young child nutrition to be met by 2025. These require governments to reduce stunting by 40% in children under five and prevalence of anaemia by 50% among women in the age group of 19-49, ensure 30% reduction in low-birth weight and no increase in childhood overweight, increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50% and reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
194 13-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates/Labour laws dilution - Parliamentary panel questions dilution of labour laws – The Parliamentary Committee on Labour has written to State governments demanding an explanation on dilution of labour laws during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Committee Chairman and BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said any amendments to the law would need legislative sanction. The issue will be taken up, whenever the committee next meets.
(Constitution and Law, Governance and Institutions)
195 13-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Passenger services resumed partially – Almost 50 days after stopping passenger trains, the Railways on Tuesday partially resumed services with eight trains operating to and from New Delhi, ferrying over 10,000 passengers. The first to run was the New Delhi-Bilaspur train that left the national capital at 4 p.m. with a booking of 1,177 passengers. The other two trains to leave from Delhi were the New Delhi-Dibrugarh special train with booking for about 1,122 passengers.
(Governance and Institutions)
196 13-05-2020 - Defence/India-China relations - No air space violation at Pangong Tso – Helicopters of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) came close to the border during the face-off with the Indian Army near Pangong Tso lake in Eastern Ladakh last week, but there was no air space violation on either side, Indian Air Force (IAF) sources said. There were two incidents of face-off between Indian and Chinese troops last week which resulted in injuries to several soldiers on both sides. The first incident occurred on May 5 near Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh while the second face-off occurred on May 9 at Naku La in Sikkim.
(Defence and Military)
197 13-05-2020 - Operation Samudra Setu Updates - INS Magar arrives from Male with 202 evacuees – INS Magar, carrying 202 Indians from the Maldives, arrived at the Kochi port as part of Operation Samudra Setu. INS Magar, based at the Southern Naval Command in Kochi, is the second ship to repatriate stranded Indians from the Maldives. INS Jalashwa had brought 698 people on Sunday and is set to evacuate another batch of around 700 people on May 15. Those who came on INS Magar included 91 people from Kerala, 83 from Tamil Nadu and 28 people from 13 other States and Union Territories.
(Governance and Institutions)
198 13-05-2020 - US-China-India Relations - India caught in US-China spat over Taiwan’s status at WHO – As tensions between the U.S. and China rise over the novel coronavirus pandemic, India, which is set to take over as the next Chairperson of the World Health Organization’s decision-making executive body in May, is faced with a major choice on whether to support a U.S. move to reinstate Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) or to China’s opposition to it. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar attended a seven-nation virtual meeting of Foreign Ministers, convened by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which appeared to be part of Washington’s efforts to gain support for its move to effect changes at the WHO.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
199 13-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Aarogya Setu app mandatory for returning NRIs, migrants – Expanding the ambit of the Aarogya Setu app, the Union Health Ministry directed that downloading it be made compulsory for all returnees (migrant labourers and those coming from abroad) for better contact surveillance and suitable medical intervention. It also asked the States to ramp up surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) or Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) to detect any possible hidden infection at an early stage to ensure timely containment. The Ministry reported 3,604 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, taking the total number of positive cases in the country to 70,756. With 87 more deaths, the nationwide toll has risen to 2,293. The country now has 46,008 active cases and 22,454 recovered, discharged or migrated cases. India’s recovery rate is now at 31.74% while the fatality rate stands at 3.2%.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
200 13-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - PM announces Rs. 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package – Prime Minister Narendra Modi said a new-lock Lockdown 4.0 beyond May 17 was in the offing, while announcing an economic stimulus package for Rs. 20 lakh crore (estimated at 10% of the GDP), with a clearly defined leap towards economic reforms that will, in his words, lead to Atmanirbhar Bharat, or a self-reliant, resilient India. This amount includes packages already announced at the beginning of the lockdown, incorporating a slew of measures from the RBI and the payouts under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
201 12-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Guiedlines for Aarogya Setu app users – Govt. issued guidelines to be followed for data processing of Aarogya Setu app users. Few clauses added that may lead to imprisonment of persons found guilty of violating certain norms. The new rules prohibit storage of data beyond 180 days and enable individuals to seek deletion of their data from the government's Aarogya Setu related record within 30 days of raising the request. The new norms allow collection of only demographic, contact, self-assessment and location data of persons infected by the coronavirus or those who come in contact with the infected person.
(Governance and Institutions)
202 12-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Railway Services to resume partially from May 12 – Fifteen pair of special trains (thirty trains) shall be operated. These will be addition to the Shramik specials Special trains already running. They will have only airconditioned classes i.e. First, Second & Third AC. Tickets can be booked online only through IRCTC website. Maximum Advance Reservation Period (ARP) will be of 7 days. Passengers will be required to reach the station at-least 90 minutes in advance to facilitate thermal screening. No Linen will be provided inside the train. Only packaged food and hand-sanitisers will be made available. All passengers will be required to wear face masks during the journey.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
203 12-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates/e-NAM - Mandis linked to e-platform see 65% rise in count post-lockdown – COVID-19 has given a boost to e-NAM, the national digital platform for agricultural trade, with the number of connected mandis, or wholesale markets, up 65% since the lockdown, according to Agriculture Ministry data. Only May 11, 177 more mandis joined the platform, taking the total to 962 nationwide, giving farmers and traders another option at a time when transport disruptions and social distancing requirements have made physical mandi trade more difficult. The National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the almost 7,000 existing mandis run by Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities, with a promise to promote real-time price discovery based on actual supply and demand. It was launched in April 2016 but progress was slow.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
204 12-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Europe emerges from curbs, but Asia fears a second wave – Swathes of Europe began the long process of reopening from coronavirus lockdowns, but the first new infections in weeks at China’s ground zero offered a sobering reminder of the dangers of a second wave of cases. The mixed fortunes illustrate the high-wire act governments face across the globe as they try to get economies moving while keeping in check a pandemic that has now killed more than 2,80,000 people and infected over four million. As France and Spain basked in a relaxation of restrictions and Britain plotted a path to normality, the Chinese city of Wuhan where the pandemic was born reported a second day of new cases after a month without a sign of the virus. Neighbouring South Korea announced its highest number of infections for more than a month driven by a cluster in a Seoul nightlife district.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
205 12-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Aarogya Setu data protocol norms issued – Data of nearly 13,000 Aarogya Setu App users who have tested positive for COVID-19 have so far been transferred to the server for health intervention, says Ajay Sawhney, Chairman, Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management. He issued an order notifying the Aarogya Setu Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020, that lays down the guidelines for collection, processing, storage and sharing of “anonymised” data. Stating that Aarogya Setu had contributed immensely to the fight against COVID-19, Mr. Sawhney said privacy protection was the primary consideration while developing the app. It stores an encrypted signature when the user comes in proximity with other registered devices. This interaction information is not pushed to the server unless the user tests positive.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
206 12-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Migrant exodus chokes Maharashtra-M.P. border – With restive workers desperate to return to U.P. and Bihar, screening and checks take a back seat. On May 9 around 50,000 workers had crossed the border, but by May 10 night, twice that number had entered Madhya Pradesh.
(Governance and Institutions)
207 12-05-2020 - Jammu and Kashmir - SC sets up panel to look into J&K Internet curbs – The Jammu and Kashmir government’s orders do not reveal any reason for making mobile 4G Internet inaccessible across the Union Territory (UT), the Supreme Court said in an order. Besides, the government orders snipping the Internet speed to 2G were meant to operate for only a limited time. The order was based on petitions filed separately by media professionals, school associations and private citizens claiming that lack of access to high-speed Internet in J&K had crippled medical efforts to contain the COVID-19 contagion and pulled the rug under online education and businesses.
(Constitution and Law)
208 12-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - India adds 4,213 cases in highest single-day rise – The country registered its highest spike in COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours with an addition of 4,213 cases, taking the tally to 67,152. An additional 97 deaths were reported, taking the nationwide toll to 2,206. India currently has 44, 029 active cases; 20,916 persons have recovered. According to data from the State Health Departments, the nationwide death toll was 2,295, with 45,932 active cases. The total number of cases stood at 70,768.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
209 12-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Modi asks States to prepare for ramping up economic activity – Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a video conference with Chief Ministers that the lockdown would continue in some form or the other even after May 17, but that the State governments should send in their plans for ramping up economic activity in green zones between May 15 and 17 for consideration by the Centre. In a marathon meeting that lasted (with a half-an -hour break in between) for nearly six hours, and saw most Chief Ministers speak their mind, Mr. Modi said the imperative was to protect rural areas from the COVID-19 pandemic as these areas were largely untouched at the moment. He also said the movement of migrant labour to their native States should be expedited within the next 10 days.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
210 11-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - NIV develops test to detect antibodies – The National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, has developed an immunological assay — enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) — to detect antibodies that the body develops in response to infection by the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus. The test will detect antibodies in blood samples. ELISA is routinely used for detecting HIV infection.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
211 11-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Trump aides stress need for reopening –  Two top U.S. economic advisers defended the need for an expeditious reopening of the economy even as COVID-19 reached into the White House despite the extraordinary precautions taken there. Secretary Steven Mnuchin and economic adviser Larry Kudlow also again expressed optimism that the U.S. economy would register a sharp recovery in the second half of the year, with Mr. Kudlow predicting “a tremendous snapback” in 2021. But their comments on Sunday talk shows came just two days after the country recorded its steepest job losses in history, for an overall unemployment rate of a historic 14.7%.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
212 11-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Clusters in S. Korea, Germany show risks of ‘second wave’ – A family in China, nightclubs in South Korea and a slaughterhouse in Germany — new clusters of infections are igniting concerns about a second wave even as calls grow in some countries to relax restrictions even further. In Germany, where thousands have protested remaining restrictions in recent days, health officials say the number of people each confirmed coronavirus patient infects rose above 1 again, reflecting a renewed increase in cases. The number must be below 1 for outbreaks to decline.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
213 11-05-2020 - Operation Vande Bharat / Samudra Setu Updates - Naval ship brings back 698 from Male – Naval ship INS Jalashwa carrying 698 Indians from the Maldives arrived at Kochi port. Part of Operation Samudra Setu, the mission brought the first group of Indian evacuees by sea after an international lockdown of all modes of transport took effect about two months ago against the COVID-19 pandemic. The ship berthed around 10 a.m. at the international cruise terminal of the port, which was ready to receive the evacuees, comprising 595 male and 103 female passengers. Among them were 14 children below the age of 10 and 19 pregnant women.
(Governance and Institutions)
214 11-05-2020 - Environment and Ecology - Massive revamp of Forest Ministry units – A proposal from “various VIPs” in Himachal Pradesh last year to change the jurisdiction of the Dehradun regional office of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to Chandigarh has triggered a massive restructuring plan. The reorganisation plan entails merging the 10 regional offices of the MoEF&CC and 19 centres of the Forest Survey of India (FSI), National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and Central Zoo Authority (CZA) into just 19 regional offices of the Ministry. The stated objective of merging regional offices with the NTCA, WCCB, CZA and FSI centres is improving efficiency and ensuring better coordination bur environment and wildlife activists see the push for restructuring during the COVID-19 lockdown as a design to make these key conservation wings of the Ministry toothless.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
215 11-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - 15 pairs of trains to run from tomorrow – The Indian Railways said it planned to restart passenger services in a phased manner — initially with 15 pairs of trains — from May 12 onwards, almost 50 days after the services were stopped amid COVID-19 lockdown. The announcement comes even as the Centre has extended the lockdown till May 17 to contain the spread of the virus. To begin with, the 15 pairs of trains, meaning a total of 30 return journeys, would be run as special trains from the New Delhi station connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi. Only passengers with valid confirmed tickets will be allowed to enter the stations.
(Governance and Institutions)
216 11-05-2020 - India-Sino Relations - Troops face off in Ladakh, Sikkim – Two incidents of face-off occurred between Indian and Chinese troops last week, resulting in injuries to several soldiers on both sides. The first incident occurred in eastern Ladakh on May 5 and the second at Naku La, Sikkim, on May 9. The issues were resolved locally.
(Defence and Military)
217 11-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Norms issued for restart of industrial units – The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued a series of guidelines for restarting manufacturing industries after the lockdown period. Certain economic activities have already been allowed on gradual lifting of restrictions in some zones. Instructions have been issued for safekeeping of hazardous and flammable materials. Guidelines also pertain to chemical disasters, management of chemical (terrorism) disasters, and strengthening of safety and security for transport of petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) tankers. The State governments have been told to ensure, through the district officials concerned, that the off-site disaster management plan of the respective major accident hazard (MAH) units are up to date.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
218 11-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Truck carrying migrant workers overturns, 5 killed – Five migrant workers were killed and 13 others injured when a truck in which they were travelling overturned on a highway in Narsinghpur district of Madhya Pradesh. District officials said 15 migrant workers were travelling in the Agra-bound truck laden with mangoes coming from Hyderabad. They were headed towards Jhansi and Etah districts of Uttar Pradesh.
(Governance and Institutions)
219 11-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - India reports 128 more deaths, 3,277 fresh cases in 24 hours – India reported 3,277 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and an additional 128 deaths, taking the total tally to 62,939 and 2,109 deaths. During this period, 1,511 patients were discharged after treatment, which takes the total recovery rate to 30.76%. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that so far a total of 16,09,037 samples have been tested. Data released by the Ministry noted that in 10 States/Union Territories no COVID-19 cases have been reported in the past 24 hours. State Health Departments reported a total of 66, 918 positive cases nationwide, with 43,888 active ones. The death toll stood at 2,200.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
220 09-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - 20.5 million Americans lost job in April – The U.S. economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, the steepest plunge in payrolls since the Great Depression. The Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report also showed the unemployment rate surging to 14.7% last month, shattering the post-World War Two record of 10.8% touched in November 1982. It strengthened analysts' views of a slow recovery from the recession caused by lockdowns imposed by States and local governments in mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
221 09-05-2020 - Operation Vande Bharat / Samudra Setu Updates – Phase-I –  27 flights are scheduled to take off from the Gulf countries and 7 flights from Bangladesh. A special Air India charter flight brought 167 students from Dhaka to Srinagar. Most of the students were enrolled in medical schools in the capital of Bangladesh. During the same time, 14 non-scheduled commercial flights are reserved for stranded Indians from Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. At the same time, seven flights shall take off for New York, Washington, DC, Chicago and San Francisco. Seven other flights will airlift Indians from London.

(Governance and Institutions)
222 09-05-2020 - Operation Vande Bharat / Samudra Setu Updates – More European nations to cover – The ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to evacuate Indian citizens is expected to cover Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Spain and east Europe in the third week of May. The process of repatriation, which is focused on the Gulf and the South Asian regions, began on Thursday and is expected to involve 64 flights, bringing back 15,000 nationals from different parts of the world through 14 Indian airports. 
(Governance and Institutions)
223 09-05-2020 - Operation Vande Bharat / Samudra Setu Updates - Navy ship with 698 evacuees leaves Male – Navy ship INS Jalashwa departed from the Port of Malé in Maldives on Friday with 698 Indians on board, and is scheduled to reach Kochi on May 10. The 698 include 595 men, 103 women, including 19 pregnant women. Mr. Sudhir termed the entire effort a “very complex operation” since Indians are spread over 200 islands across the 800 km length of the Maldives and there are restrictions in place on island to island movement. In all about 1800-2000 Indians would be evacuated from Maldives and priority was being given to compelling cases such as medical, senior citizens, family emergencies and jobless. About 4500 Indian community members out of approximately 27,000 have conveyed their wish to travel back.
(Governance and Institutions)
224 09-05-2020 - Babri Masjid demolition case update - Deliver Babri case verdict by Aug. 31: SC – The Supreme Court directed a CBI court trying senior BJP leaders for the Babri Masjid demolition to deliver the judgment by August 31, 2020. Prominent BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders like L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti are accused of criminal conspiracy which led to the demolition of the 16th century Babri mosque by kar sevaks in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. A Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman took cognisance of a letter from CBI judge S.K. Yadav through videoconferencing and said, “... given the original time frame and the extended time frame, the effort must now be to complete the proceedings and deliver judgment latest by August 31, 2020.” The Bench said Mr. Yadav should take advantage of videoconferencing facility to complete the evidence in the trial and wind up the case.
(tion and Law)
225 09-05-2020 - US-Afghanistan-Taliban Updates - U.S. special envoy urges India to talk to Taliban – India should discuss its concerns on terrorism directly with the Taliban, said U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, adding that he had discussed how India could play a “more active role” in the Afghan reconciliation process, during his talks in Delhi.
(Defence and Military)
226 09-05-2020 - LG Polymers gas leak case - Green tribunal directs LG Polymers to deposit Rs. 50 cr. – The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed LG Polymers India to deposit an initial amount of Rs. 50 crore for the damage caused by the gas leak at its plant in Vishakhapatnam, which left at least 11 people dead and affected several others. A Bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, issued notice to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Union Ministry of Environment, seeking their response by May 18. It also constituted a five-member fact-finding committee, to be headed by a former judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, to probe the incident, which happened early on Thursday, and submit a report. The committee was directed to inspect the site “at the earliest”. 
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
227 09-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - Supreme Court asks States to consider online sale of liquor – The Supreme Court left it open for the States to consider online sales and home delivery of liquor during the COVID-19 lockdown to facilitate physical distancing. Dismissing a petition filed against a government circular of May 1, allowing direct contact sales of liquor, a three-judge Bench left it to the discretion of the States to create a mechanism for online purchase and home delivery.” In his petition, Guruswamy Nataraj said, through his counsel Sai Deepak and Anindita Mitra, that there were 70,000 liquor vends and shops nationwide, and over five crore people had purchased liquor from them. He said there had been a palpable rise in COVID-19 cases since these shops were opened.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
228 09-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - 16 M.P. migrants run over by train near Aurangabad – Sixteen migrant labourers, who were trying to return to their home State Madhya Pradesh on foot, were killed on Friday when a goods train ran over them between Jalna and Aurangabad districts, nearly 260 km from here. One was seriously injured, while three escaped. All were aged between 20 and 30 and hailed from Umaria and Shahdol districts. They were working at a steel firm in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) zone in Jalna district. According to the authorities, the labourers left Jalna in Maharashtra and walked on the road until Badnapur and then moved to the track. They decided to stop after walking around 36 km and fell asleep at the spot.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
229 09-05-2020 - COVID-19 Updates - 103 deaths, 3,390 new cases in a day; recovery rate hits 29.36% – With a recovery rate now standing at 29.36 %, India registered 3,390 new COVID positive cases with 103 deaths taking the total number to 56,342 cases and 1,886 deaths. The country currently has 37,916 active cases and so far a total of 16,540 people have been cured. Data from State Health Departments put the nationwide death toll at 1,963 with a total number of 58,895 cases of which 38,354 are active cases. Maharashtra reported 1,089 new patients, taking the total tally to 19,063. The State also reported 37 more deaths, taking the death toll to 731. Gujarat reported 390 new cases, taking its tally to 7,403, while the death toll rose to 449 with 24 more deaths in the last 24 hours.
(ce and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
230 08-05-2020 - Russia tops Germany, France after record spike in infections – Russia’s coronavirus cases overtook France and Germany to become the fifth highest number in the world after a record daily rise, and Moscow’s mayor said the real figure, not captured by official statistics, was much higher. The official tally surged to 1,77,160, meaning Russia now has more registered cases than Germany or France, as the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus jumped by 11,231 in the past 24 hours. More than half of all cases and deaths are in Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak, which reported a record overnight increase of 6,703 new cases, bringing its official total to 92,676.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
231 08-05-2020 - Trump vetoes Iran resolution – U.S. President Donald Trump vetoed what he called a “very insulting” congressional resolution seeking to limit his war powers in Iran. In a statement, Mr. Trump said he had used his veto because the resolution — a rare bipartisan rebuke to the President approved in March — was based on “misunderstandings of facts and law.” The measure stemmed from fears among both Mr. Trump’s Republicans and Democrats that the White House was stumbling into war with the Islamic republic. In the statement, Mr. Trump said the Congress misinterpreted his constitutional authority as being limited to “defence of the U.S. and its forces against imminent attack.”.
(World Politics)
232 08-05-2020 - Surge in domestic violence: WHO – Emergency services across Europe have seen a sharp rise in domestic abuse calls under sweeping lockdowns imposed across the continent, the World Health Organization’s regional office said. Billions of people are subject to some form of stay-at-home orders across the globe, and experts say women and children are most vulnerable to abuse. Domestic violence often increases in times of crisis, and is exacerbated due to restrictions and containment measures put in place to limit the spread of the new coronavirus. The UN agency for sexual and reproductive health (UNFPA) has estimated that there would be 31 mn more cases of domestic violence worldwide if lockdowns continue for another 6 months. 
(Social Issues)
233 08-05-2020 - Virus attack worse than Pearl Harbor – Donald Trump has said the COVID-19 pandemic is a worse attack on the U.S. than either Pearl Harbor or 9/11, taking aim once again at China, which he said should have stopped the disease in its tracks. The President has ramped up his rhetoric against Beijing in recent weeks, as the death toll in the U.S. has continued to climb, and as he agitates to re-open the shuttered — and stuttering — economy. While some European and Asian nations have started easing lockdowns, experts have warned that despite the economic pain, social distancing measures remain necessary until a vaccine is developed. Globally, the virus has infected 3.7 million people and killed more than 2,60,000 — a quarter of them in the U.S.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
234 08-05-2020 - Management Aptitude Test can be taken at home – Applicants for the Management Aptitude Test (MAT) — for MBA course admissions in more than 600 business schools across the country — can now take the test sitting at home. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, MAT authorities have decided to introduce an Internet-based test with remote proctoring through artificial intelligence-based tools this year.
(Education)
235 08-05-2020 - Factory working hours increased in M.P. – Madhya Pradesh allowed employers to increase working hours in factories by four hours, from eight to 12. It has also allowed up to 72 hours a week in overtime. Newly opened industrial units can organise third-party inspections. They will be exempted from the requirement of keeping registers and inspections. Industries can change shifts at their convenience. New industries will be exempted from all Sections of the Factories Act, 1948, except for Sections 6, 7, 8, 21-41 (H), 59, 67, 68, 79, 88 and 112.
(Governance and Institutions)
236 08-05-2020 - King of fruits now delivered at your doorstep – The joint collaboration of the Telangana Horticulture department and the Department of Posts, Telangana Postal Circle, to deliver the ‘king of fruit’ at the doorstep of consumers overcoming the limitations of social distancing in these times of COVID-19 crisis has evoked tremendous response in twin cities. Within a few days of the Horticulture department taking orders over the phone and then through its website Tfresh.org from May 3, orders have been placed so far for 40 tonnes of mangoes and two tonnes of sweet lime.
(Agriculture, Governance and Institutions)
237 08-05-2020 - Penniless and hungry, a long march home on other side of Vindhyas – Thousands of migrant workers from Bengaluru, a majority of them young men in their 20s and 30s, have begun their long trek home to Uttar Pradesh and other States in North India on foot. Though Karnataka government announced that it would re-start Shramik Express trains to northern States, they have not turned back to Bengaluru. National Highway 44 is dotted with small groups people, their faces covered in handkerchiefs or masks, carrying luggage and water bottles. Despite several challenges on the road — uncertainty over their next meal, soaring mercury, difficulty in crossing borders — their resolve to reach home was firm.
(Governance and Institutions, Social Issues)
238 08-05-2020 - India registers 3,561 new cases, 89 deaths in a day – India registered 3,561 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 52,952. With 89 deaths, the tally mounted to 1,783. The country currently has 35,902 active cases, with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director Randeep Guleria stating that according to data released by experts and going by the current trend, the cases are likely to peak in June-July. According to data from the Union Health Ministry, 15,266 persons have been cured so far with 1,084 patients cured in the past 24 hours. However, the State Health Departments put the total number of cases at 54,299, of which 36,761 are active. The number of deaths rose to 1,832.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
239 08-05-2020 - Vizag gas leak claims 11 lives; over 350 hospitalised – Eleven people, including a six-year-old girl, died and over 350 were admitted to hospitals after styrene monomer gas leaked from a chemical plant belonging to LG Polymers India at R.R. Venkatapuram in Visakhapatnam. The gas leak began around 3.30 a.m. in the plant, which is situated in the midst of a densely populated area. It was set up in 1961 in the area, then a suburb. The gas reportedly spread over a radius of about 3 km, affecting at least five villages — R.R. Venkatapuram, Padmapuram, B.C. Colony, Gopalapatnam and Kamparapalem. About 2,000 people were evacuated from the 3-km radius. The gas is not lethal but prolonged exposure to it could affect the central nervous system, which may lead to depletion of oxygen to the brain and cause nausea, vomiting and breathlessness. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy announced compensation of ₹1 crore for family members of the deceased.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
240 07-05-2020 - Automobile majors resume partial operations – Royal Enfield, TVS Motor Company, MRF and Apollo Tyres resumed operations at their manufacturing facilities on Wednesday based on the government’s directions even as the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki said it will restart vehicle production at its Manesar plant in Haryana on May 12. Royal Enfield said its manufacturing unit at Oragadam, near Chennai, was the first to begin operations in a staggered manner, with minimal staff over a single shift.
(Indian Economy)
241 07-05-2020 - SBI to extend loan moratorium to NBFCs – In a move that could give a huge relief to the non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) facing a cash crunch, the State Bank of India (SBI) has decided to extend loan moratorium to these entities. According to top sources in the bank, the decision was taken after a meeting, wherein it was decided that non-banks that wanted to avail the three-month moratorium on payment of instalments will have to apply for the same and the facility will not be extended by default. The move comes days after a recent meeting between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and commercial banks wherein the issues of moratorium and liquidity flow to NBFCs were discussed.
(Indian Economy)
242 07-05-2020 - Sri Lanka’s election date challenged in SC – Sri Lanka’s parliamentary poll date of June 20 has been challenged at the Supreme Court, with four recently filed petitions questioning its timing amid the coronavirus pandemic. In separate petitions, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB or United People’s Front), the opposition party led by former Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa, senior journalist Victor Ivan, the Colombo-based NGO Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Attorney-at-Law Charitha Gunarathne have contested the Election Commission’s decision to hold polls on June 20 — it has said the date is subject to review — arguing that the environment was not conducive to hold a free and fair election. 
(Constitution and Law, Governance and Institutions)
243 07-05-2020 - European economy faces historic recession – The EU forecast a historic recession on the continent battered by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, as the U.S. and China escalated their war of words over the origins of the disease. The grim prediction from Brussels came as Europe’s biggest economy Germany unveiled plans for a near-return to normality, even as fresh data from the powerhouse revealed manufacturing and car sales have been badly hammered. Countries in Asia joined step in easing punishing lockdowns that have kept swathes of humanity indoors for weeks and pummelled economies, tipping the world toward a recession not seen in decades.
(World Economy)
244 07-05-2020 - Police arrest ‘Bois Locker Room’ group admin – The Delhi Police’s Cyber cell has arrested the admin of the Instagram group ‘Bois Locker Room’ that was being used to share abusive messages and morphed images of underage girls on the social media site. Police said the 18-year-old admin of the group had appeared for his Class 12 board examinations this year. Police, however, withheld the name of the arrested person, asserting that such disclosure could lead to the identification of other group members, many of whom are minors. The admin is a student of a school in Delhi-NCR. Four other group members, who are all majors and above 18 years of age, are also now being probed.
(Regional Economy)
245 07-05-2020 - Fall in key treatment categories – Cardiology treatments offered under the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) declined 45% ; ‘general surgeries’ plummeted 23% and procedures related to gynaecology and obstetrics nosedived 25% from February to April, according to data from the official National Health Authority. The only category of treatment that showed an increase, and in fact accounted for the largest number of treatments and procedures offered overall was ‘general medicine’. In February, there were 54,179 procedures offered under this category. It increased to 65,336 in March and 68,519 in April, the data show. There were 1,98,734 treatments offered under various AB-PMJAY packages in January, which slightly dipped to 1,93,679 in February; 1,88,116 in March and 1,51,672 in April. In the first month after lockdown, March 24 - April 24, 1,59,755 treatments were offered.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
246 07-05-2020 - Ahmedabad to shut down for a week – As the novel coronavirus infection is surging, authorities in Ahmedabad have imposed emergency-like measures shutting down the entire city, except for pharmacies and milk parlours, till May 15 and deploying paramilitary forces. All grocery stores, vegetable and fruit outlets and those dealing in essential services will remain shut. Even banking services, except ATMs, will not be available. The civic body has requisitioned seven private hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 patients. It has directed all private nursing homes and clinics to open within 48 hours, failing which their licences would be cancelled. These measures were taken after senior IAS officer Rajiv Kumar Gupta, tasked with supervising and guiding the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the city, held the first meeting.
(Governance and Institutions)
247 07-05-2020 - Kerala tribal woman scales new heights of success – Kozhikode has always accorded royal treatment to top civil servants. The latest recipient of the hospitality of the district is Sreedhanya Suresh, the first ever civil services rank holder from the Scheduled Tribe community in Kerala, who is set to take charge as Assistant Collector (in training) in Kozhikode. As soon as the news came out a few days ago, though she is yet to leave her training at Mussoorie, social media platforms were abuzz with details of her background and achievements. Her interviews, even those that date back a year, were widely shared to motivate youngsters, especially Civil Services aspirants. Sreedhanya’s rise from an underprivileged background to securing 410th rank in one of the most prestigious examinations in the country is indeed motivational.
(Education, People and Personalities)
248 07-05-2020 - Top Hizb commander killed in Kashmir: police – Terror group Hizbul Mujahideen’s “operational commander” Riyaz Naikoo, who was on the run for eight years, was among the three militants killed by security forces in south Kashmir in the past 12 hours. Naikoo’s killing sparked violent protests by locals in Pulwama and parts of Srinagar, forcing the authorities to snap Internet and calling facility in the Valley as “a precautionary measure”. Several checkpoints were attacked with stones. The police did not confirm any injuries in these protests. Naikoo joined the militant ranks in May 2012 and was a close associate of Burhan Wani, who was killed in 2016.
(Defence and Military, Terrorism)
249 07-05-2020 - Virus tally crosses 50,000-mark; number of deaths surges to 1,771 – For the second consecutive day, India recorded a three-digit rise in deaths though, at 126, it was lower than the previous day’s spike of 195. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by 2,958, the fifth day running when the daily increase exceeded 2,000. At 49,391 confirmed infections on Wednesday, only 14 countries have more cases than India. There were 33,514 active cases while 1,457 people recovered in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said. The death toll stood at 1,694. However, reports from the State Health Departments put the total number of cases at 52,468, of which 35,545 are active. The number of deaths rose to 1,771.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
250 05-05-2020 - India’s recovery to death ratio improves to 90:10 - The outcome ratio — which is the ratio of recoveries and deaths — for Covid-19 has improved to 90:10 now from 80:20, indicating better clinical management of patients affected with the virulent infection while 1,074 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, the highest number on a single day, the health ministry said. Official data showed 42,836 confirmed cases, of which, 29,685 were still active. While 11,761 cases have been cured and discharged, the toll has increased to 1,389. The total recovery rate is 27.52%, opposed to 13.06% on April 17.
(Governance and Institutions)
251 05-05-2020 - State govts face huge revenue shortfall – Uttar Pradesh government has spent over Rs 12,000 crore in paying salaries and pension for April, when its revenues were Rs 2,284 crore. It’s a similar story in Punjab, where wage and pension bill added up to Rs 3,000 crore in April and there was an equal amount spent on debt servicing, while total earnings were Rs 200-250 crore. Not a single bottle of alcohol was sold and there is virtually no petrol or diesel sales. Punjab earned around Rs 10 crore a day from stamp duty and registration, which is not there, and consumption being what it is, is leading to almost nil GST. But there are higher spending requirements from relief & rehabilitation and medical departments. While states have demanded that their borrowing limit be raised by allowing them to go past the prescribed fiscal deficit of 3% of GDP to up to 5% of GDP, they are awaiting clarity from the Centre to amend their laws.
(Indian Economy)
252 05-05-2020 - Bears on the rampage as U.S.-China spar – A mix of global and domestic factors pulled down the Indian equity benchmark indices, snapping a four-day gaining streak as well. Market participants attributed the drop to the overall weak trend in global markets as the U.S. and China engaged in a fresh spat after the former threatened fresh tariffs while alleging that COVID-19 originated in a China lab. On the domestic front, the 14-day extension of the lockdown dampened investor sentiments that was already subdued on account of weak corporate earnings by heavyweights such as Hindustan Unilever, and Reliance Industries. The 30-share Sensex lost a whopping 2,002.27 points, or 5.94%, to close at 31,715.35. As many as 28 of the 30 constituents of the benchmark ended deep in the red.
(World Politics)
253 05-05-2020 - Former Pope says opponents are attempting to ‘silence’ him – Traditionalist former Pope Benedict XVI accuses opponents of wanting to “silence” him while associating gay marriage with “the Antichrist” and attacking “humanist ideologies” in a new authorised biography published in Germany. The 93-year-old, whose original name is Joseph Ratzinger, claims in Benedict XVI — A Life that he has fallen victim to a “malignant distortion of reality” in reactions to his interventions in theological debates. “The spectacle of reactions coming from German theology is so misguided and ill-willed that I would prefer not to speak of it,” he said. The former Pope — who dramatically resigned in 2013 — was especially criticised for a 2018 text that was seen as critical of the Jewish faith.
(People and Personalities)
254 05-05-2020 - Europe emerges from virus lockdown – Millions of Europeans emerged with relief from coronavirus confinement, with hard-hit Italy leading the way out of the world's longest lockdown. At least 3.5 million people are now known to have been infected, but U.S. President Donald Trump offered hope for an end to the pandemic, saying he believed there would be a vaccine by year's end. The search for a cure received a further boost when the European Union hosted a telethon for world leaders aimed at raising €7.5 billion ($8.2 billion) to discover a COVID-19 vaccine. Around 248,000 people have died since the coronavirus emerged in China late last year and swept across the globe, given wings by the network of air routes that in normal times keep the modern world ticking.
(Governance and Institutions)
255 05-05-2020 - Rajasthan defers staff salaries as revenues dry up – The revenue collection in Rajasthan in the first month of fiscal 2020-21, after the COVID-19 lockdown was enforced, has fallen by 70%, even as there was a shortfall of Rs. 18,000 crore in the last fiscal 2019-20, according to the State Finance Department. While the State had budgeted for revenues of Rs. 8,400 crore, including Rs. 6,800 crore through taxes and GST compensation and Rs. 1,600 crore of non-tax revenue, it has achieved only Rs. 1,800 crore by April-end.
(Indian Economy)
256 05-05-2020 - States with high swine flu rate record most COVID-19 cases – Five States — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Tamil Nadu — account for about 70% of India’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, that stood at 46, 416. However, data from the Health Ministry’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), show that these are also States that consistently accounted for the bulk of swine flu cases, or seasonal influenza (H1N1) since 2015. Last year, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Maharashtra accounted for 15,580 cases of confirmed H1N1 — or 54 % of the confirmed infections. In 2018 again, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat, made up 65% of H1N1 cases. In 2015, which saw 42,592 cases, the largest spike in cases since the swine flu pandemic of 2009-10, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Delhi polled 63% of the cases.
(Governance and Institutions)
257 05-05-2020 - Nod for return of stranded Indians – The government has decided to allow hundreds of thousands of Indians stranded in different parts of the world to return home in a “phased manner” beginning May 7, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced. In the first phase, “distressed citizens” will be brought back on commercial aircraft and naval ships, according to a list prepared by the respective embassies, strictly on “payment-basis”, the government added. The returnees would also have to pay for quarantine and hospital facilities that they need on return.
(Governance and Institutions)
258 05-05-2020 - Confusion prevails over who will foot migrants’ train fare – Soon after Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked the party’s State units to bear the cost of rail travel of migrant workers, the Railways said the “sending States” needed to pay for sending people home on the ‘Shramik Specials’. At a regular briefing, Health Ministry spokesman Lav Aggarwal, claimed that though the government started the ‘Shramik Specials’ at the request of the State governments to help stranded people, the Centre would bear 85% of the cost and the States the remaining 15%.
(Governance and Institutions)
259 04-05-2020 - Germany extends ban on Hezbollah – German police raided five sites linked to the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, as authorities announced that they were banning activities by its political wing in Germany. The raids, intended to prevent evidence about possible front organisations being destroyed, took place at mosques and community centres in Berlin, Bremen, Muenster, Recklinghausen and Dortmund.
(Social Issues)
260 04-05-2020 - Lockdown rules/exemptions from May 4 - The Ministry of Home Affairs clarified rules regarding opening of shops/services during lockdown. Barber shops and salons located in green and orange zones will be allowed to open. These are not allowed to open in red zones. In green and orange zones, sale of all items by e-commerce platforms permitted. In red zones, the e-commerce companies are allowed to sell only essential commodities. Liquor shops could open in all zones except containment areas. Sales allowed of the shop is a standalone one and is not located in markets or malls. Classifications of districts into ‘Red’, ‘Orange’ and ‘Green’ zones is done based on COVID-19 risk profiling.
(Governance and Institutions)
261 04-05-2020 - State govts face huge revenue shortfall – Uttar Pradesh government has spent over Rs 12,000 crore in paying salaries and pension for April, when its revenues were Rs 2,284 crore. It’s a similar story in Punjab, where wage and pension bill added up to Rs 3,000 crore in April and there was an equal amount spent on debt servicing, while total earnings were Rs 200-250 crore. Not a single bottle of alcohol was sold and there is virtually no petrol or diesel sales. Punjab earned around Rs 10 crore a day from stamp duty and registration, which is not there, and consumption being what it is, is leading to almost nil GST. But there are higher spending requirements from relief & rehabilitation and medical departments. While states have demanded that their borrowing limit be raised by allowing them to go past the prescribed fiscal deficit of 3% of GDP to up to 5% of GDP, they are awaiting clarity from the Centre to amend their laws. 
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
262 04-05-2020 - Lockdown dries up cos’ cash flows – Cash flows, the lifeline of businesses, are drying up fast. An extended lockdown has left companies — micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in particular — staring at a bleak future. Some companies are struggling to pay salaries to employees, while some are looking at winding up operations rather than continue with an unprofitable enterprise. Companies use working capital for their day-to-day expenses. When finished products are sold, they get income. While the fixed expenses — such as salaries to employees — have remained constant even during the lockdown, there’s been no income or cash that has come for a non-essential manufacturer or service provider.
(Indian Economy)
263 04-05-2020 - South Korea will relax social distancing rules further from May 6 – South Korea will further relax social distancing rules from May 6, allowing a phased re-opening of businesses, as the nation has largely managed to bring the COVID-19 outbreak under control, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said. Widespread testing, intensive contact tracing and tracking apps have enabled South Korea to limit the spread of the virus rather than rely on the lengthy lockdowns seen elsewhere.
(Governance and Institutions)
264 04-05-2020 - Hard-hit Italy prepares to lift lockdown – European nations prepared for further cautious easing of COVID-19 restrictions following signs the pandemic may be slowing, with hard-hit Italy set to follow Spain in allowing people outside after weeks of confinement. More than 2,43,000 people have been killed and 3.4 million infected worldwide by the virus, which has left half of humanity under some form of lockdown and pushed the global economy towards its worst downturn since the Great Depression. With signs that the spread of the disease is coming under control, parts of Europe, Asia and the U.S. have begun to lift restrictions to try to inject life into economies crippled by weeks of closures and ease the pressure on populations weary of confinement.

(Governance and Institutions)
265 04-05-2020 - 126 lakh tonnes of food grains given to States: FCI – The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has supplied around 126 lakh tonnes of food grains, almost equivalent to two-and-a half months’ supply in normal situations, to States and Union Territories during COVID-19 lockdown. Between March 25 and April 30, States and union territories obtained 37.13 lakh tonnnes of wheat and 89 tonnes of rice, totalling 126.13 lakh tonnes. On an average, every month, the FCI issues around 50 lakh tonnes of food grains to States and union territories under the norms of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and other schemes, according to D.V. Prasad, FCI Chairman and Managing Director. Of the five zones in the country, the northern zone was given the maximum of 39.95 lakh tonnnes; southern zone – 29.18 lakh tonnes, followed by the east – 28.33 lakh tonnes; west – 23.03 lakh tonnes and the northeast – 5.63 lakh tonnes.
(Governance and Institutions)
266 04-05-2020 - Economic recovery may take over a year, says CII – The country’s high performing economic districts should be allowed to play by different rules in the third phase of the lockdown beginning, according to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). In a strategy paper submitted to the Centre, the CII called for changes in zone classification, saying that the 100-150 districts with the highest economic value — identified either through GDP contribution or density of industrial clusters — should be allowed to restart industrial activity, even in containment areas, if stringent rules are followed. It argued that the cost of 100% testing and aggressive health protocols is lower than continued shutdown in these areas. 
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
267 04-05-2020 - Colonel, Major among five personnel killed in J&K – Five security personnel, including a Colonel, a Major and a sub-inspector, and two militants were killed in an 18-hour operation in north Kashmir’s Handwara. Initial investigation suggested that one militant was a local and the other was a resident of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, identified as Hyder alias Iqbal.
(Defence and Military, Terrorism)
268 04-05-2020 - Central health teams to monitor 20 districts with heavy case load – The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India crossed 40,000, making it one among 16 countries that have crossed that figure. With 83 more deaths, a single-day high, the death toll nationwide has gone up to 1,306. India currently has 28,070 active cases and 10,886 patients have recovered, according to the latest numbers available on the Health Ministry website. Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi led with the maximum number of cases.
(Governance and Institutions)
269 02-05-2020 - Germany extends ban on Hezbollah – German police raided five sites linked to the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, as authorities announced that they were banning activities by its political wing in Germany. The raids, intended to prevent evidence about possible front organisations being destroyed, took place at mosques and community centres in Berlin, Bremen, Muenster, Recklinghausen and Dortmund. 
(Social Issues)
270 02-05-2020 - Anti-apartheid activist Denis Goldberg dies – South African anti-apartheid activist Denis Goldberg has died at his home near Cape Town, aged 87. Mr. Goldberg was a prominent member of the now-ruling African National Congress and stood trial alongside Nelson Mandela. He spent 22 years in prison for his involvement with the ANC’s fight against apartheid, the racist system of oppression imposed by the white minority government. When his fellow accused were sent to Robben Island, as a white prisoner Mr. Goldberg was separated from them and imprisoned in the capital, Pretoria.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
271 02-05-2020 - COVID-19 – Side Effects – There will be 11,000 fewer deaths in European countries under coronavirus lockdown due to a sharp drop in fossil fuel pollution in April, according to research released. Measures to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed the region’s economies to a crawl, with coal-generated power falling by nearly 40%, and oil consumption by a third.
(World Economy)
272 02-05-2020 - Airlines owe Rs. 3,700 cr. refunds – Indian carriers owe Rs. 3,700 crore in refunds to passengers and repaying such a large amount — if the Supreme Court takes a decision favouring air travellers — will be among the first major acid tests for airlines, according to aviation consultancy CAPA. CAPA estimates that airlines owe nearly $500 million, which translates into Rs. 3,787 crore as per the current exchange rate, in refunds. This includes $300 million (Rs. 2,200 crore) for domestic bookings and over $200 (Rs. 1,500 crore) for international travel.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Economy)
273 02-05-2020 - Ghani, Abdullah reach ‘tentative deal’ – A bitter feud between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah appeared closer to resolution on Friday after Mr. Abdullah said the two men had moved forward in talks. “We have made progress in negotiations & reached tentative agreement on a range of principles. Work on details is underway to finalize the agreement,” Mr. Abdullah said on Twitter. The dispute has proved a huge distraction for Afghanistan at a terrible time, with the coronavirus crisis worsening daily and the Taliban stepping up attacks despite a deal they signed with the U.S. in February.
(People and Personalities)
274 02-05-2020 - Biden denies sexual assault allegation by former aide – Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden denied on Friday that he sexually assaulted a former U.S. Senate aide in 1993, in his first public remarks on the subject after he faced intense pressure to personally address the accusation. A California woman named Tara Reade, who worked as a staff assistant in Mr. Biden’s Senate office from December 1992 to August 1993, has accused Mr. Biden in media interviews of pinning her against a wall in 1993, reaching under her skirt and pushing his fingers inside her.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
275 02-05-2020 - Environment Ministry gives nod for new Parliament project – The Centre’s proposal to construct a new Parliament building next to the existing heritage structure was approved by the Environment Ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) last week. The EAC, however, said the approval was subject to the outcome of a legal challenge to the change of land-use of the plot. The Central Public Works Department’s (CPWD) proposal for “expansion and renovation of the existing Parliament building at Parliament Street” was among the projects considered by the EAC at its meetings on April 22-24. The proposal was earlier considered by the EAC at its meetings on February 25-26, where it asked the CPWD for additional information.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
276 02-05-2020 - Direct taxes revenues defy lockdown, jump 36.6% in April – Direct tax collection recorded a healthy growth in April despite the nationwide lockdown and grew by 36.6%. The net direct tax collection for April 2020 was Rs. 34,780.4 crore as compared to Rs. 25,466 crore recorded in April 2019, a jump of 36.6%. Income tax collection in April was Rs. 19,762.1 crore while corporate tax collection was Rs. 14,608.1 crore. The government is expected to miss the direct tax collection target for the financial year 2019-20. The revised estimate has pegged the target for collection of direct taxes for 2019-20 at Rs. 11.70 lakh crore. In addition, the outlook for indirect tax collection is also bleak in the first few months of the current financial year due to the countrywide lockdown.        
(Indian Economy)
277 02-05-2020 - Health Ministry identifies 130 districts as red zones – The Union Health Ministry listed 130 districts in the country in the red zone, 284 in the orange zone and 319 in the green zone for a week after May 3, ahead of the extension of the second phase of the nationwide lockdown. Under this classification, a district will be considered under green zone if there has been no confirmed case of COVID-19 so far or if there is no reported case since last 21 days in the district. Red zones are identified based on total active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, extent of testing and district feedback. Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat are among the States with a heavy COVID-19 load as per the list.
(Governance and Institutions)
278 02-05-2020 - Lockdown extended till May 17; curbs stay on public transport – The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued new guidelines allowing considerable relaxations across red, orange and green zones, based on the evidence of COVID-19 infection, even though it extended the countrywide lockdown till May 17. The lockdown, imposed first on March 24 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, was to end on May 3. The MHA asked local authorities to ensure 100% coverage of the Aarogya Setu app among the residents in the containment zones. In green zones, buses can operate with up to 50% seating capacity and bus depots can operate with up to 50% capacity. In orange zones, taxis and cab aggregators will be permitted to ply with only one passenger.
(Governance and Institutions)
279 01-05-2020 - Germany extends ban on Hezbollah – German police raided five sites linked to the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, as authorities announced that they were banning activities by its political wing in Germany. The raids, intended to prevent evidence about possible front organisations being destroyed, took place at mosques and community centres in Berlin, Bremen, Muenster, Recklinghausen and Dortmund. 
(Governance and Institutions)
280 01-05-2020 - Anti-apartheid activist Denis Goldberg dies – South African anti-apartheid activist Denis Goldberg has died at his home near Cape Town, aged 87. Mr. Goldberg was a prominent member of the now-ruling African National Congress and stood trial alongside Nelson Mandela. He spent 22 years in prison for his involvement with the ANC’s fight against apartheid, the racist system of oppression imposed by the white minority government. When his fellow accused were sent to Robben Island, as a white prisoner Mr. Goldberg was separated from them and imprisoned in the capital, Pretoria.
(People and Personalities)
281 01-05-2020 - COVID-19 – Side Effects – There will be 11,000 fewer deaths in European countries under coronavirus lockdown due to a sharp drop in fossil fuel pollution in April, according to research released. Measures to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed the region’s economies to a crawl, with coal-generated power falling by nearly 40%, and oil consumption by a third.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
282 01-05-2020 - Banks borrow Rs. 2,000 crore from RBI for mutual funds – Commercial banks have borrowed Rs. 2,000 crore from the liquidity window that was offered by the Reserve Bank of India for mutual funds (MFs), so far, latest data released by the central bank showed. The RBI had announced a special window of Rs. 50,000 crore for mutual funds in view of the redemption pressure that the fund houses are facing. Funds availed under this facility will be used by banks exclusively for meeting the liquidity requirements of MFs, RBI had said. The scheme was made available from April 27, 2020 till May 11, 2020 or up to utilisation of the allocated amount, whichever is earlier.
(Indian Economy)
283 01-05-2020 - Virus was not manmade: U.S. agencies – U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but say they are still examining whether the origins of the pandemic trace to contact with infected animals or an accident at a Chinese lab. The statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of U.S. spy agencies, comes as President Donald Trump and his allies have touted the as-yet-unproven theory that an infectious disease lab in Wuhan.
(Social Issues, World Politics)
284 01-05-2020 - India’s crossover star Irrfan Khan passes away – One of Indian cinema’s leading actors and its most recognised face internationally, Irrfan Khan passed away in Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. He was admitted for a colon infection and died because of resultant complications. Mr. Khan is survived by his wife, screenwriter Sutapa Sikdar and two sons, Babil and Ayan. His last rites took place at the Versova Kabrastan in Mumbai in the presence of his family, close relatives and friends, including filmmakers Vishal Bhardwaj, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Abhinay Deo Born in Jaipur, Mr. Khan started his illustrious innings in acting with a stint at New Delhi’s National School of Drama. While Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay (1988) is credited as his debut, he had to struggle long and hard to make space for himself in the world of films. He acted in a lot of television shows through the 1980s and the 1990s, including the popular Banegi Apni Baat.
(People and Personalities)
285 01-05-2020 - Rishi Kapoor passed away – One of Indian cinema’s leading stars, much loved for his youthful musical romances, Rishi Kapoor, passed away after being on ICU support for a week at the Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai. He died after a two-year battle with leukaemia. Kapoor is survived by wife Neetu Kapoor, and children Ranbir Kapoor and Riddhima Kapoor Sahni. He was last seen in Jeethu Joseph’s The Body. The second son of legendary actor-director Raj Kapoor, and Krishna Raj Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor showed his acting genes in his debut film Mera Naam Joker (1970) for which he won the National Award for the Best Child Artiste. His first film as a leading man, Bobby (1973), was a superhit and established him as a youthful, romantic icon. All through the 1970s and 80s he kept setting the hearts flutter with his musical romances and the trademark dance moves in many a catchy film song.
(People and Personalities)
286 01-05-2020 - Parliament project gets panel nod – The government’s plan to construct a new Parliament building was approved by the Central Vista Committee at a meeting on April 23 with the suggestion that the design be “in sync” with the existing Parliament House, according to the minutes of the meeting sent to its members.
(Constitution and Law, Governance and Institutions)
287 01-05-2020 - Indian Economy: March core sector output slumps 6.5% – Output at India’s core sector contracted by 6.5% in March, reflecting the early impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown. The index of eight core sector industries, which form 40% of the weight of items included in the broader Index of Industrial Production (IIP), reflected a contraction in key parts of the economy in March. Analysts warned that the core sector data signalled a much sharper contraction in the wider IIP, especially in April, as several core sector industries were actually exempted from the lockdown. Leading the contraction at the core industries were a 13% decline in steel output, and a 7% fall in electricity generation. The two sectors account for almost 40% of the index. Cement production crashed 25%, while natural gas production slid 15%, the data showed. Fertiliser production also fell 12%, while crude oil production slipped 5.5%. Coal was the only core sector which saw some growth, with output up 4%. The largest component of the index — refinery production — also dipped by only 0.5%.
(Indian Economy)
288 01-05-2020 - COVID-19 update: Recovery rate rises to 25% – India reported 1,823 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 33,610 with 8,373 recoveries. An additional 71 deaths have now taken the total number of fatalities to 1,074. The deaths include 32 from Maharashtra, 16 from Gujarat, 11 from Madhya Pradesh and three from Uttar Pradesh. According to Ministry data, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 9,915, followed by Gujarat at 4,082, Delhi at 3,439, Madhya Pradesh at 2,660, Rajasthan at 2,438, Uttar Pradesh at 2,203 and Tamil Nadu at 2,162. The number has gone up to 1,403 in Andhra Pradesh and 1,012 in Telangana. The country is currently recording a total recovery rate of 25.19% up from 13% about two weeks ago.
(Governance and Institutions)
289 30-04-2020 - TCS iON offers free online self-certification course -- Corona Warriors -- for frontline health workers to deal with COVID-19 patients.
(Social Issues)
290 30-04-2020 - Amazon India sets up ‘Partner Support Fund for small and medium businesses in logistics’ - Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) across India have been financially impacted due to the nationwide lockdown in these unprecedented times. In an effort to enable the SMBs in logistics that are heavily reliant on the company, Amazon India has introduced a Partner Support Fund.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
291 30-04-2020 - Task Force on National Infrastructure Pipeline presents its Final Report to Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman – The Task Force on National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) submitted its Final Report on NIP for FY 2019-25 to the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. The Summary Report of the Task Force on National Infrastructure Pipeline for 2019-2025 has already been released by the Finance Minister on December 31st, 2019. NIP is a first-of-its-kind, whole-of-government exercise to provide world-class infrastructure across the country, and improve the quality of life for all citizens. It aims to improve project preparation, attract investments (both domestic and foreign) into infrastructure, and will be crucial for target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by FY 2025.
(Indian Economy)
292 30-04-2020 - Banks borrow Rs. 2,000 crore from RBI for mutual funds – Commercial banks have borrowed Rs. 2,000 crore from the liquidity window that was offered by the Reserve Bank of India for mutual funds (MFs), so far, latest data released by the central bank showed. The RBI had announced a special window of Rs. 50,000 crore for mutual funds in view of the redemption pressure that the fund houses are facing. Funds availed under this facility will be used by banks exclusively for meeting the liquidity requirements of MFs, RBI had said. The scheme was made available from April 27, 2020 till May 11, 2020 or up to utilisation of the allocated amount, whichever is earlier.
(Indian Economy)
293 30-04-2020 - China to hold legislative session in May  – Countries tried to balance how far to ease coronavirus lockdowns, with Germany enforcing mandatory masks in shops, as the crushing global economic cost of the pandemic became clearer. Excitement over moves towards normality is being tempered by fear of fresh outbreaks of a disease that has already killed 2,14,000 people worldwide and infected more than three million. China said its legislature would hold its annual session in May after being delayed by the coronavirus, signalling the communist leadership’s growing confidence in taming the disease that emerged in the country late last year.
(Social Issues)
294 30-04-2020 - India’s crossover star Irrfan Khan passes away – One of Indian cinema’s leading actors and its most recognised face internationally, Irrfan Khan passed away in Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. He was admitted for a colon infection and died because of resultant complications. Mr. Khan is survived by his wife, screenwriter Sutapa Sikdar and two sons, Babil and Ayan. His last rites took place at the Versova Kabrastan in Mumbai in the presence of his family, close relatives and friends, including filmmakers Vishal Bhardwaj, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Abhinay Deo Born in Jaipur, Mr. Khan started his illustrious innings in acting with a stint at New Delhi’s National School of Drama. While Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay (1988) is credited as his debut, he had to struggle long and hard to make space for himself in the world of films. He acted in a lot of television shows through the 1980s and the 1990s, including the popular Banegi Apni Baat.
(People and Personalities)
295 30-04-2020 - India remains on U.S. Priority Watch List – India continues to be on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for lack of adequate intellectual property (IP) rights protection and enforcement, the USTR said in its Annual Special 301 Report. India remained one of the most challenging economies for IP enforcement and protection, the report said. Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela are also on the Priority Watch List. India made “meaningful progress” to enhance IP protection and enforcement in some areas over the past year, it did not resolve recent and long-standing challenges, and created new ones, the report said.
(Indian Economy)
296 30-04-2020 - NEET applies to minority colleges: SC – The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is mandatory for admission to medical colleges run by religious and linguistic minority communities, the Supreme Court held. A three-judge Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra held that admissions solely through NEET for graduate and postgraduate medical/dental courses does not violate any fundamental and religious rights of minorities. NEET would apply for both aided and unaided medical colleges run by minorities. The court dismissed arguments by the managements of several minority-run medical institutions, including the Christian Medical College Vellore Association, that bringing them uniformly under the ambit of NEET would be a violation of their fundamental right to “occupation, trade and business”.    
(Constitution and Law)
297 30-04-2020 - Only 30 lakh found NREGA work in April – Although the Centre gave explicit instructions to reopen its flagship rural jobs scheme from April 20, only 30 lakh people were provided work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in April, about 17% of the usual, government data show. In mid-April, only 1% of the usual number of workers had found employment. The figures for this April are the lowest in five years, and show an 82% drop from the previous year’s figure of 1.7 crore workers. Some States had zero workers as on April 29, showing they had not restarted their work sites at all. 
(Governance and Institutions)
298 30-04-2020 - India reports 70 deaths, highest in a single day – India reported 70 COVID-19 deaths — the highest in a single day — in the past 24 hours. The total death toll now reached 1,008 and propped India among 17 countries that had over 1,000 deaths. The total confirmed active cases were 22,982 and 7,796 had recovered, the Health Ministry website said in its evening update. At a conference, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that in the last three days, India’s doubling rate was 11.3 days. Although global mortality rate was around 7%, India’s was around 3%, and around 86% of those who died had a co-morbidity. Data from the State Health Departments put the nationwide death toll at 1,067 and the total number of positive cases at 32,741, with 23,334 active ones.
(Governance and Institutions)
299 29-04-2020 - Olympics cancellation likely if vaccine not found in time – The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics will have to be cancelled if a vaccine isn’t found and the coronavirus pandemic brought under control by next year, the organising committee's president warned, ruling out further delays. The comments, in an interview with Japanese sports daily Nikkan Sports published, come as medical experts doubted whether the pandemic can be sufficiently contained by next year to hold an event drawing participants and spectators from around the world. The pandemic has already forced a year-long delay of the Games, which are now scheduled to open on July 23, 2021.
(Entertainment Games and Sports)
300 29-04-2020 - Venezuela names official indicted by U.S. as Oil Minister - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro tasked Tareck El Aissami — a Vice-President for the economy who has been indicted in the U.S. on drugs trafficking charges — with “restructuring and reorganization” of the OPEC member’s crippled oil industry. Mr. Maduro also named Asdrubal Chavez, cousin of the late President Hugo Chavez, as interim President of the state oil firm PDVSA. The U.S. in 2017 designated El Aissami as having played “a significant role in international narcotics trafficking” and placed him on a most-wanted fugitives list in August last year.
(People and Personalities)
301 29-04-2020 - South Asia faces health crisis as children miss vaccination – South Asia could face a further public health crisis as children miss routine vaccinations, the UN warned, spurring fears that the fallout from the pandemic might reverse hard-earned gains in the region. The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said hundreds of thousands were at risk as lockdowns across South Asia halted immunisation drives and parents refrained from taking their children to doctors to be inoculated. Bangladesh and Nepal have halted their measles and rubella campaigns while Pakistan and Afghanistan have suspended their polio drives since the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Social Issues)
302 29-04-2020 - U.S. may seek damages from China – U.S. President Donald Trump suggested he may seek damages from China over the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan and spread around the world, prompting a furious response from Beijing. Beijing and Washington have clashed repeatedly over the outbreak as tensions have soared between the world’s two biggest economic powers. Mr. Trump was asked about a recent German newspaper editorial, which called on China to pay Germany $165 billion in reparations because of economic damage due to the virus. Asked if the U.S. would consider doing the same, Mr. Trump said “we can do something much easier than that.”
(World Politics)
303 29-04-2020 - No improvement in Ganga water quality during lockdown – The lockdown may have dramatically reduced air pollution across the country but it hasn’t significantly reduced pollution in the Ganga. The dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration, a measure of the amount of free oxygen available in river systems, “rose marginally” from March 22-April 15. A high DO value is considered a good indicator of river health. However, two other measures, BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) and COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) — both indicators of the amount of oxygen necessary to break down organic and inorganic pollution — showed “insignificant reductions”, the CPCB report notes. The lower these numbers are the better they indicate river health.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
304 29-04-2020 - Animal poaching registers a sharp increase during lockdown - The instances of poaching of wild animals and birds, including the endangered chinkara or Indian gazelle, have registered a sharp increase across Rajasthan during the COVID-19 lockdown, with the hunters taking advantage of slack monitoring and sparse public movement in the remote areas. Armed poachers have been moving inside the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries since the lockdown was enforced. Besides killing chinkaras and blackbucks, the poachers have targeted peacocks, grey francolins and other birds covered under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, as endangered species. Instances of chinkara poaching were reported in Pali, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Nagaur districts.
(Social Issues)
305 29-04-2020 - Capital reports no deaths for third consecutive day – No fresh virus-related deaths were reported in the city for the third consecutive. But 206 new cases were registered, taking the total to 3,314, according to the Delhi government. Of the total cases, 1,078 people have recovered and there are 2,182 active cases. A total of 54 people have died due to the virus so far. Another area in the city has also been sealed off, taking the total number of containment zones to 100. Meanwhile, four more people working at Delhi government’s Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, including a doctor, have tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of workers infected at the hospital to 31.
(Governance and Institutions)
306 29-04-2020 - Govt. starts planning for Haridwar Kumbh Mela - Crowds, or even the prospect of one, may be anathema everywhere, but the government has begun planning for the Maha Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, in January 2021. The gathering has a long history and draws large crowds from the world over, who come to take a ritualistic dip in the Ganga. An April 16 meeting, organised by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the Water Ministry body overseeing the clean up of the river, discussed funds needed by the Uttarakhand government for providing community toilets and urinals for the attendees. The Maha Kumbh Mela is organised once in 12 years, and the last time the event was held in 2010, about 10 million reportedly congregated in the city. For organising the event, the State sought ₹85 crore from the NMCG for creating 16,075 community toilets (made of fibre and portable) and 20,000 community urinals.
(Governance and Institutions)
307 29-04-2020 - Ministry does U-turn on plasma therapy – Plasma therapy is not an approved treatment for COVID-19 and is only one of the several therapies being explored currently, the Union Health Ministry. The therapy is still at an experimental stage and the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) is currently studying its efficacy, it added. The Health Ministry statement comes days after the Drug Controller General of India gave its go-ahead to a proposal by the ICMR for the clinical trial of convalescent plasma therapy in COVID-19 patients as per the protocol developed by the Council. Last week, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had asked the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) to contact recovered COVID-19 patients to come forward for blood donation, from which convalescent plasma could be collected and used.
(Governance and Institutions, Science and Technology)
308 29-04-2020 - 51 more deaths as cases near 30,000 – India has reported 1,594 new cases and 51 new deaths related to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 29,974. This includes 22,010 active cases, 7027 discharged and migration and 937 deaths. The country currently is registering a recovery rate of 23.3%. Data from the State Health Departments put the nationwide death toll at 973 and the total number of cases at 30,415, with 22,088 active ones. Maharashstra continued to report the maximum number with over 8,500 active cases. Gujarat reported 226 new positive cases, with Ahmedabad alone accounting for 164 in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of the affected people in the State to 3,774.
(Governance and Institutions)
309 28-04-2020 - World Unites To Speed Up Vaccine  – World leaders pledged to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against Covid-19 and to share them around the globe, but the United States did not take part in the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative. French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among those who joined a video conference to launch what the WHO had billed as a “landmark collaboration” to fight the pandemic. 
(Social Issues)
310 28-04-2020 - Franklin suspends 6 more schemes - Franklin Templeton MF, the troubled fund house that was forced to close six of its debt funds due to extreme liquidity in the market, has suspended another six fund of funds (FoF) schemes managed by it with total assets of about Rs 933 crore. These FoFs have been suspended since they had investments in two of the six schemes that were closed, and it was difficult to generate any income in the current situation. With the shutting of these FoFs, the total assets under suspension for the 12 schemes together is now at nearly Rs 27,000 crore. An FoF is a mutual fund that invests in one or more MF schemes. These can be from the same fund house, another house or both. 
(World Economy)
311 28-04-2020 - Yemen separatists declare self-rule in south – Yemen’s main southern separatist group announced that it would establish self-rule in areas under its control, which the Saudi-backed government warned would have “catastrophic consequences”. The move threatens to renew conflict between the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) and the Saudi-backed government, allies in Yemen’s war. The STC is one of the main groups fighting against the Houthis as part of a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. But the separatists have clashed with government forces in the past. In a statement, the STC announced emergency rule in Aden and all southern governorates, saying it would take control of Aden’s port and airport and other state institutions such as the central bank. 
(World Politics)
312 28-04-2020 - Brokers seek action against Templeton – Stock brokers want the government and the capital markets regulator to take strict action against Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund, including appointing a high-powered committee to take over the management of the fund house while examining investment decisions taken by the house. The Association of National Exchanges Members of India (ANMI), an umbrella body representing about 900 brokers, has again written to the Ministry of Finance and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seeking urgent action to safeguard further erosion of investor wealth while enabling a plan for investors to get their money in a time-bound manner.
(Indian Economy)
313 28-04-2020 - We have 56% more water in reservoirs than we had last year – The plentiful rains last year and heavy snowfall in the Himalayan States have ensured that in terms of just volumes, we are pretty well off this year. A review of 132 reservoirs under the Central government, which are out of the 5,000 total reservoirs but which provide two-thirds of the total supply of water across the country, it has been found that we have 56% more water than we had last year in the reservoirs, which is 47% higher than the average for the last 10 years.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
314 28-04-2020 - India among top 3 military spenders: report - The global military expenditure rose to $1917 billion in 2019 with India and China emerging among the top three spenders, according to a report by a Swedish think tank, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). In 2019, the top five largest spenders — U.S. ($732 bn), China, India, Russia ($65.1 bn) and Saudi Arabia ($61.9 bn) — accounted for 62% of the global expenditure. The annual report ‘Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019’ was released on April 27. India’s expenditure in 2019 was 6.8% more than that in 2018, the report says the country’s military expenditure has risen significantly over the past few decades.  
(Defence and Military)
315 28-04-2020 - Essential goods movement up, says govt. – There has been significant progress in removing bottlenecks and ensuring smooth movement of essential goods, according to Parameswaran Iyer, Chairman of the Empowered Group 5 on Logistics and Supply Chain of Essential Items. Trucks moving food and medicines were functioning at about 46% on March 30, and had now improved to 76%. Movement of rail rakes is also at three-fourths of the usual rate, while ports are now handling almost 90% of their usual traffic. In a key indicator with regard to the food and farm supply chain, four out of five agricultural mandis (markets) have now been reopened, said Mr. Iyer. An online portal had been set up to connect farmers with mandis, cold storage and buyers.
(Governance and Institutions)
316 28-04-2020 - RBI opens Rs. 50,000 cr. liquidity tap for MFs - The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced a special window of Rs. 50,000 crore for mutual funds in view of the redemption pressure that the fund houses are facing. While announcing the window, the RBI said the liquidity stress was limited to high risk debt funds and the larger industry remains liquid. Under the scheme, the RBI will conduct repo operation of 90 day tenor at the fixed rate repo. Funds availed under this facility will be used by banks exclusively for meeting the liquidity requirements of mutual funds by extending loans, and for undertaking outright purchase of and/or repos against the collateral of investment grade corporate bonds, commercial papers, debentures and certificates of deposit held by the funds, the central bank said.
(Indian Economy)
317 28-04-2020 - ICMR says no payment made for Chinese test kits supplies – India does not stand to lose a single rupee, said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in response to a clarification sought on the alleged profiteering by distributors, exposed through a legal dispute between an importer and a distributor, in the delivery of rapid antibody testing kits to it. According to details provided in the Delhi High Court, the kits procured from China, whose delivered cost was Rs. 245 a test, were sold to ICMR for Rs. 600 a test — a mark up of 145%. The matter came to light when Rare Metabolics Life Sciences Pvt Ltd and Aark Pharmaceuticals, distributors of Chinese Wondfo Biotech’s kits imported by Matrix Labs, approached the High Court recently to get delivery/payment disputes cleared. The Council, in a one-page clarification, noted that it had not made any payment whatsoever in respect of the supplies — “because of the due process followed (not going in for procurement with 100% advance amount).
(Governance and Institutions, Science and Technology)
318 28-04-2020 - Modi hints at graded exit from lockdown, says danger not over – Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Chief Ministers that though the lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak had yielded “positive results” and the country managed to “save thousands of lives in the past one and a half months”, the danger of the virus was far from over and “constant vigilance is of paramount importance”. He was addressing a videoconference with Chief Ministers. The signal to the States, many of whom asked for an extension of the lockdown, was clear — that any exit from would be graded, and would take into account case load and virulence. The decision to extend the lockdown itself, sources said, would be taken around May 3, when the current phase ends. Mr. Modi emphasised that all efforts should be made to convert the red zones (where cases have occurred in the past 14 days) to orange (where cases have not occurred in 14 days) and green zones (where no cases have occurred in 28 days).
(Governance and Institutions)
319 27-04-2020 - World Unites To Speed Up Vaccine  – World leaders pledged to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against Covid-19 and to share them around the globe, but the United States did not take part in the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative. French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among those who joined a video conference to launch what the WHO had billed as a “landmark collaboration” to fight the pandemic.
(Governance and Institutions)
320 27-04-2020 - Franklin suspends 6 more schemes - Franklin Templeton MF, the troubled fund house that was forced to close six of its debt funds due to extreme liquidity in the market, has suspended another six fund of funds (FoF) schemes managed by it with total assets of about Rs 933 crore. These FoFs have been suspended since they had investments in two of the six schemes that were closed, and it was difficult to generate any income in the current situation. With the shutting of these FoFs, the total assets under suspension for the 12 schemes together is now at nearly Rs 27,000 crore. An FoF is a mutual fund that invests in one or more MF schemes. These can be from the same fund house, another house or both. 
(Indian Economy)
321 27-04-2020 - Yemen separatists declare self-rule in south – Yemen’s main southern separatist group announced that it would establish self-rule in areas under its control, which the Saudi-backed government warned would have “catastrophic consequences”. The move threatens to renew conflict between the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) and the Saudi-backed government, allies in Yemen’s war. The STC is one of the main groups fighting against the Houthis as part of a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. But the separatists have clashed with government forces in the past. In a statement, the STC announced emergency rule in Aden and all southern governorates, saying it would take control of Aden’s port and airport and other state institutions such as the central bank. 
(Governance and Institutions)
322 27-04-2020 - ‘Kim Jong-un’s train’ spotted at Wonsan town – A train likely belonging to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been spotted at a resort town in the country’s east, satellite photos reviewed by a U.S.-based think tank showed, as speculation persists over his health. The train was parked at a station reserved for the Kim family in Wonsan on April 21 and April 23. There has been growing conjecture about Mr. Kim’s health since his conspicuous absence from the April 15 celebrations for the birthday of his grandfather Kim Il-sung, the regime’s founder — the most important day on the North Korean political calendar.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
323 27-04-2020 - COVID-19 updates – Spanish children were allowed outside for the first time in six weeks as countries eased lockdown measures and reopened economies gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected nearly three million people worldwide. Governments from France to Italy and the United States are gearing up for a partial easing of severe restrictions that have kept more than half of humanity indoors for weeks on end. Coronavirus cases around the world rose to 2.9 million and deaths have doubled since April 10 — hitting nearly 2,03,000 people on Sunday — with well over half of them in Europe.
(Governance and Institutions)
324 27-04-2020 - Indian Economy: Cotton Cultivation in Punjab - Punjab can see around three lakh acres more under the cotton crop this kharif (summer) season against the previous year as farmers could shift from paddy (rice) on account of possible labour shortage in the State. Also, State government’s push for crop diversification would be another factor that could aid the acreage under cotton. In Punjab and Haryana, Bt cotton is sown in over 95% of the total area, the rest 5% cotton is usually the indigenous (desi) cotton varieties. Cotton is usually planted from mid April to till late May in most parts of the two States. The Punjab government has set a target of enhancing the area under cotton cultivation from 9.7 lakh acres last year to 12.5 lakh acres in 2020, in a bid to promote crop-diversification. Government data shows that in year 2018 cotton was sown in 6.62 lakh acres and in 9.7 lakh acres in 2019. 
(Agriculture, Indian Economy)
325 27-04-2020 - PM Mann Ki Baat – Acknowledging that India’s fight against the COVID-19 is people-driven, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked citizens to “remain careful and not lower their guard against the pandemic on the assumption that it will not affect them”. Addressing his monthly radio broadcast, Mann Ki Baat, exactly a week before the second phase of the nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end on May 3, Mr. Modi stressed on strictly following social distancing protocols, not spitting in the open, wearing masks or covering faces with gamchas [towel] while stepping out. Though he didn’t give any indication about the government’s thinking with regard to the current lockdown, Mr. Modi did express the hope that “the world may be able to somewhat free itself from the virus by the time Id is celebrated”.
(Governance and Institutions, People and Personalities)
326 27-04-2020 - IIT researchers develop tool to predict spread of COVID-19 - Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi have developed a web-based dashboard for predicting the spread of COVID-19 in India. The institute said that the mobile-friendly dashboard, PRACRITI (PRediction and Assessment of CoRona Infections and Transmission in India) gives detailed State-wise and district-wise predictions of COVID-19 cases in India for a three-week period, which is updated on a weekly basis. The institute said that researchers believe that such a platform will be highly useful for healthcare organisations as well as local and central authorities to efficiently plan for different future scenarios and resource allocation.
(Governance and Institutions, Science and Technology)
327 27-04-2020 - Indian Economy: Hard for industry to reopen – Almost half of the industries which have been allowed to reopen still face hurdles in obtaining permits to function and passes for employees, according to a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) survey. Over 60% of surveyed companies also said movement of inputs and finished goods is still disrupted. The industry group demanded that businesses should be allowed to function without need of permits in non-containment areas, with workers allowed to commute to work in their own vehicles on the basis of a letter issued by the employer without need of a government pass. The Centre has slowly been easing restrictions, first allowing the reopening of essential sector businesses and then permitted industries located in rural areas, as well as certain sectors including construction, IT and hardware, to begin work subject to certain restrictions.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
328 27-04-2020 - COVID-19 updates: Toll hits 826 – The death toll due to COVID-19 continued to rise, with the country registering a total of 826 fatalities and 26,917 cases. While the death toll rose by 46, the number of cases spiked by 1,975 from April 25 evening. The number of active cases stood at 20,177, while 5,913 people have recovered and one patient has migrated. The total number of cases includes 111 foreign nationals, while 312 cases are being assigned to States for contact tracing. However, reports from the States put the total number of cases at 27, 579, out of which 20,274 are active. The nationwide death toll stood at 880, while 6,425 people have recovered.
(Governance and Institutions)
329 25-04-2020 - World Unites To Speed Up Vaccine  – World leaders pledged to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against Covid-19 and to share them around the globe, but the United States did not take part in the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative. French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among those who joined a video conference to launch what the WHO had billed as a “landmark collaboration” to fight the pandemic.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
330 25-04-2020 - India Post delivers ₹412cr cash in doorstep banking revolution  - The lockdown has set off a banking revolution. Irrespective of which bank you have an account with—in a city or a village without a branch—you can call the local post office and ask it to deliver cash. In as little as 10-15 minutes, the postman or postwoman will reach your home. For this, you need not have an account with the post office. Between March 24 and April 23, post offices across India delivered Rs 412 crore in over 21 lakh such transactions, mostly in rural and unbanked areas, through a network of 1.36 lakh post offices which have been equipped with 1.86 lakh handheld AePS devices.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
331 25-04-2020 - A month of lockdown: Covid growth falls from 22% to 8% – When PM Modi announced a total lockdown of the country exactly a month ago, there were around 500 Covid-19 cases in India. But there were clear signs that the numbers were going to shoot up. The average daily growth in cases was 21.6% on March 24, which since dropped to 8.1%. Had we continued to grow at that rate, the number of cases would have crossed 2 lakh by now. But a growth rate of 8.1% three days into the fifth week of lockdown is still higher than what the worst-hit countries achieved after locking down for the same period. While Germany brought down the growth rate to 2%, the US was at 4.8%.
(Governance and Institutions)
332 25-04-2020 - Wildlife Board nod for mining in Assam elephant reserve – Amid the countrywide lockdown, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has recommended coal mining in a part of an elephant reserve in Assam. The NBWL’s Standing Committee had on April 7 discussed a proposal for use of 98.59 hectares of land from the Saleki proposed reserve forest land for a coal mining project by North-Easter Coal Field (NECF), a unit of Coal India Limited. The NBWL is under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). Saleki is a part of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve that includes the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary covering 111.19 sq km of rainforest and several reserve forests in Sivasagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
333 25-04-2020 - Foodgrain stock will last till next March, says FCI chief – The stock of foodgrains available with the Food Corporation of India is “comfortable” to manage the situation till March next year, but it would be an exaggeration to hold that the stock is “far in excess” of the buffer stock requirement, which should include additional allocation, according to D.V. Prasad, Chairman and Managing Director of the FCI. Responding to the demand being made by food security activists that the Central government, with “enormous excess stock”, release more foodgrains to States free of cost or at a nominal price over and above the existing allocations, Mr. Prasad told that the buffer stock norms were fixed based on the requirement of wheat or rice at 5 kg a person for 80 crore beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which was in line with the requirements of the law.
(Governance and Institutions)
334 25-04-2020 - CM appeals to recovered patients to donate their plasma, save lives - Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed “encouraging” the limited trial of plasma therapy on patients at a city hospital and appealed to recovered COVID-19 patients to step forward and donate their plasma to save the lives of serious patients. Two of the four patients on whom the trial was conducted at Lok Nayak Hospital would be shifted out of intensive care three days after the therapy. He also said that Delhi government would ask for permission from the Centre to use plasma therapy on all serious patients based on the next trial.
(Governance and Institutions)
335 25-04-2020 - White tigress dies in Delhi zoo – A 13-year-old white tigress died at the Delhi zoo. The tigress, which was born in the zoo, was cremated on its premises. The official said that all precautions were taken by the zoo staff to avoid any contact with the animal. Earlier this month, the Central Zoo Authority in a letter to zoo officials said that COVID-19 has been confirmed in a tiger in a zoo in New York and directed all of them to be careful. The official said that samples of the tigress have been sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
336 25-04-2020 - IIT researchers develop tool to predict spread of COVID-19 - Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi have developed a web-based dashboard for predicting the spread of COVID-19 in India. The institute said that the mobile-friendly dashboard, PRACRITI (PRediction and Assessment of CoRona Infections and Transmission in India) gives detailed State-wise and district-wise predictions of COVID-19 cases in India for a three-week period, which is updated on a weekly basis. The institute said that researchers believe that such a platform will be highly useful for healthcare organisations as well as local and central authorities to efficiently plan for different future scenarios and resource allocation. 
(Governance and Institutions, Science and Technology)
337 25-04-2020 - Uttar Pradesh to bring back migrant workers in phases – Uttar Pradesh will bring back migrant workers stranded in other States and have completed 14 days of quarantine in a phased manner. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath instructed officials to prepare a working plan and come up with details. Mr. Adityanath asked officials to make preparations for keeping the migrants under 14 days of quarantine in their respective districts and to sanitise and vacate shelter homes well in time. Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Awanish Awasthi, said the Chief Minister had instructed officials to send back migrants of other States who had completed 14 days of quarantine in Uttar Pradesh.
(Governance and Institutions)
338 25-04-2020 - India records largest single-day spike of 1,752 cases; toll hits 723 – Over nine lakh persons are under active COVID-19 surveillance in India, as the total number of cases reached 23,452. The death toll stood at 723. The country registered another biggest single-day spike with over 1,752 positive COVID cases. India currently has 17,915 active cases, while 4,813 people have recovered, which puts the recovery rate at 20.57%. Separately, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in a statement, said the situation in emerging and major hotspots, including Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Chennai, is serious. The statement added that violations of lockdown measures reported in some parts of the country pose a serious health hazard to the public and may lead to the spread of COVID-19.
(Governance and Institutions)
339 24-04-2020 - COVID-19: Effects on Indian Economy –
- Remittances to India are likely to drop by 23% from USD 83 in 2019 to USD 64 billion in 2020 due to COVID-19: World Bank.
- COVID-19 pandemic: Centre freezes dearness allowance (DA) payable to its employees and dearness relief (DR) to its pensioners for one year from January 1, 2020.
(Governance and Institutions, Science and Technology)
340 24-04-2020 - COVID-19: Innovations -
- Mizoram using Mobile app ‘mCOVID19’ to act as online pass for drivers and handymen.
- CSIR’s IMMT (Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology), Bhubaneswar develops foot-operated wash basins, to be installed in Mumbai’s Dharavi.
(Governance and Institutions, Science and Technology)
341 24-04-2020 - Franklin Templeton to shut 6 debt funds in a 1st for MF – Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund, one of the top fund houses in India, has decided to close down six of its debt funds, which currently manage nearly Rs 25,900 crore in all. The move is due to liquidity troubles in the bond market triggered by Covid-related issues. This is the first time such an incident has happened in India. The closure is effective from April 24. As a result of this, all the systematic investment plans (SIPs), systematic withdrawal plans (SWPs), systematic transfer plans (STPs), and all redemptions and inflows will stop. The funds are Low Duration Fund, Dynamic Accrual Fund, Credit Risk Fund, Short-Term Income Plan, Ultra Short Bond Fund and Income Opportunities Fund.
(Indian Economy)
342 24-04-2020 - COVID-19: Stockholm to reach herd immunity in weeks, says Sweden’s top expert – Sweden’s unusual approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic is starting to yield results, according to the country’s top epidemiologist. Anders Tegnell, the architect behind Sweden’s relatively relaxed response to Covid-19, told local media the latest figures on infection rates and fatalities indicate the situation is starting to stabilize. “We’re on a sort of plateau,” Tegnell said. “Herd immunity could be reached in Stockholm in the coming weeks.” Sweden has left its schools, gyms, cafes, bars and restaurants open throughout the spread of the pandemic. The country’s strategy of herd immunity allows a majority of the population to gain resistance to the virus by becoming infected and then recovering.
(Governance and Institutions)
343 24-04-2020 - IIT Delhi develops low-cost kit for detecting Covid-19  – IIT-D has developed a low-cost Covid-19 detection kit costing barely a few hundred rupees using indigenously developed technology. The kit was approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex bio-medical research body which is at the centre of the fight to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. The institute, which is the first such to get ICMR approval is now in the process of identifying an industry partner and aims to get production rolling this week. IIT Delhi’s team of 10, including four faculty members, identified unique regions (short stretches of RNA sequences) in the Covid-19 /SARS COV-2 genome. These regions are not present in other human corona viruses, providing an opportunity to specifically detect Covid-19.
(Governance and Institutions, Science and Technology)
344 24-04-2020 - COVID-19: DRDO develops mobile virology lab - Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday inaugurated through videoconference a mobile virology research and diagnostics laboratory (MVRDL). It has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), together with ESIC Hospital, Hyderabad, and the private industry. The MVRDL is the combination of a bio-safety level (BSL)-3 lab and a BSL-2 lab and was set up in a record time of 15 days. It can process 1,000-2,000 samples a day.
(Governance and Institutions)
345 24-04-2020 - COVID-19 predictions – There is likely to be no respite from increases in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country for at least three weeks, predicts a mathematical model that projects the future burden on India’s healthcare system. Based on the relationship between COVID-19 deaths and cases from several countries, the model posits that the country’s healthcare system must prepare to tend to 7,928 ICU patients on May 6. Authorities have currently extended the nationwide lockdown up to May 3. As of today, India has 24,644 ICU beds, and bed-demands and deaths, according to the model’s authors, assume a “worst-case” scenario. From April 23 to 29, the model projects 1,164 deaths, and from April 29 to May 6 predicts the number of fatalities to rise to 3,964 — again the authors emphasise — based on a worst case scenario.
(Governance and Institutions)
346 24-04-2020 - COVID-19 effect on environment - According to a report by the Central Pollution Control Board, the first phase of the lockdown, from March 25 to April 15, reduced particulate matter pollution by nearly half in Delhi. This led to nearly a week-long run of the air quality index remaining in the ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’ categories, as opposed to the unhealthy and hazardous categories the city is more accustomed to. The stint was broken by a dust storm and subsequent change in temperature and dry weather heralding summer.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change, Governance and Institutions)
347 24-04-2020 - COVID-19 updates – The government withdrew the clause allowing filing of an FIR against a company and its management if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, following concerns raised by India Inc. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, meanwhile, maintained that there was no government directive “for an FIR against a factory”.
(Constitution and Law, Governance and Institutions)
348 24-04-2020 - COVID-19 updates: One month of lockdown in India – India has managed to maintain a linear growth of COVID-19 cases over the one month period during its lockdown, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday even as the country reported over 1,409 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of cases to 21,700 with 16,689 active ones. There have been over 4,324 recoveries, which takes the recovery rate to 19.89 %, the Health Ministry said. A total of 686 deaths have been reported, with 34 in the past 24 hours. There are 12 districts that did not have a fresh case in the last 28 days. 78 districts from 23 States/Union Territories have not reported any fresh cases during the last 14 days. Nationwide death toll is at 718 with 23,034 cases of which 17, 428 are active ones.
(Governance and Institutions)
349 23-04-2020 - US warships enter S China Sea amid rising tension with Beijing - American warships have sailed into disputed waters in the South China Sea, heightening a standoff in the waterway and sharpening the rivalry between the US and China, even as much of the world is in lockdown. The America, an amphibious assault ship, and the Bunker Hill, a guided missile cruiser, entered contested waters off Malaysia. At the same time, a Chinese government ship in the area has for days been tailing a Malaysian state oil company ship carrying out exploratory drilling. Chinese and Australian warships have also powered into nearby waters. Despite working to control a pandemic, Beijing has not reduced its activities in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which one-third of global shipping flows. Instead, the Chinese government’s yearslong pattern of assertiveness has only intensified.
(Defence and Military)
350 23-04-2020 - Only job-based green cards to be suspended for 60 days: Donald Trump – A day after his announcement on suspension of immigration created a furore, US President Donald Trump clarified that the immigration order he is scheduled to sign will only pause employment based green cards for 60 days and not ban most temporary guest worker visas but the President said after the 60-day pause, “the need for any extension or modification will be evaluated by myself and a group of people based on academic conditions at time,” indicating that this could be the first step in reordering the immigration system through executive fiat.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
351 23-04-2020 - COVID-19: update – A day after ICMR said to stop using rapid testing kits for COVID-19 for two days so that it can check complaints, they have been told to continue to use rapid test kits for surveillance purpose, RT-PCR tests as the principal diagnostic test for COVID-19.
(Governance and Institutions)
352 23-04-2020 - COVID-19 impact 
- Fitch Solutions cuts India’s economic growth forecast for 2020-21 to 1.8% from 4.6% earlier.
- A large contraction in global economy in first half of 2020 inevitable because of coronavirus outbreak: IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva
(Indian Economy)
353 23-04-2020 - Indian Economy: Poor prices for Rabi crops  – Arrivals of wheat, mustard and other major rabi crops at markets during the first two weeks of April were more than 90% lower than during the corresponding period last year but increase in the prices have not been very high. Fruit farmers have been hit the hardest with prices down 9%, despite 85% fall in arrivals. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the rabi or winter season harvest has been brutal, despite government efforts to facilitate agricultural activities. The CRISIL research showed that only one lakh tonnes of major rabi crops — wheat, gram, rapeseed and mustard — arrived in mandis between April 1 to 12, 98% less than the 51 lakh tonnes that arrived in mandis during the same period in 2019.
(Agriculture)
354 23-04-2020 - COVID-19: Rs. 15,000 crore investment package relived - The Union Cabinet approved a Rs. 15,000-crore investment package for the COVID-19 emergency response and health system preparedness. Post facto approval was given to the package at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar at a press conference. The funds will be used in three phases, with Rs. 7,774 crore for immediate use and the rest for medium-term support, that is one to four years. The key objectives of the package include mounting emergency response to slow and limit COVID-19.
(Governance and Institutions)
355 23-04-2020 - Indian Economy: Facebook purchases 9.99% stack in Jio – Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Inc. announced that it had agreed to buy a 9.99% stake in the Mukesh Ambani-led Jio Platforms Limited for Rs. 43,574 crore, valuing the subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) at an enterprise value of Rs. 4.62 lakh crore. The transaction, which will need regulatory approval, will help the RIL unit to leverage Facebook’s WhatsApp in accelerating business on the JioMart platform and connecting neighbourhood grocery stores with consumers. “In the near future, JioMart and WhatsApp will empower nearly 3 crore small Indian kirana shops to digitally transact with every customer in their neighbourhood,” Mr. Ambani said in a video message. Jio Platforms, which houses all of RIL’s digital businesses, intends to use a part of the funds invested by Facebook to reduce debt.
(Indian Economy)
356 23-04-2020 - Terrorism in J&K: Four militants killed - Four militants were killed by security forces in a village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. The militants were encircled during a search and cordon operation at Melhora village. The operation was launched after a tip-off. The militants opened fire on the search party, triggering a gunfight. The operation was carried out jointly by the Army, the police and the Central Reserve Police Force.
(Terrorism)
357 23-04-2020 - COVID-19 updates: Jail for attack on COVID-19 frontline workers – The Union Cabinet approved the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, making acts of violence against medical staff a cognisable and non-bailable offence and to provide compensation for injury to healthcare personnel or for damage or loss to property. The ordinance proposes that in cases of attacks on healthcare workers, the investigation will be completed within 30 days and the final decision arrived at within one year. The punishment for such attacks will be three months to five years and the fine Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2 lakh. In severe cases, where there are grievous injuries, the punishment will be six months to seven years and the fine Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh.
(Governance and Institutions)
358 23-04-2020 - COVID-19 updates – India reported 50 new COVID-19 deaths and the recovery of 3,959 patients, taking the recovery rate to 19.36% from 17% previously. The Union Health Ministry said 20,971 individuals have been confirmed positive as of now, while the death toll stood at 652. Reports from the States put the toll at 683 and the total number of positive cases at 21,324, out of which 16,489 are active. Maharashtra has the most number of cases (5,649), followed by Gujarat (2,407) and Delhi (2,248).
(Governance and Institutions)
359 22-04-2020 - Regulator sweetens TLTRO deal for banks lending to NBFCs - The Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to exclude loans extended to non-banking finance companies from the funds availed under the Targeted Long Term Repo Operations ((TLTRO) for determining priority sector targets. This is intended to incentivise banks to lend to NBFCs. Securities kept in the held-to-maturity category will now be excluded from computation of adjusted non-food bank credit, The banking regulator had announced TLTRO worth Rs. 50,000 crore for banks on April 17.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
360 22-04-2020 - Sri Lanka EC announces polls on June 20; Opposition voices concern – Sri Lanka’s Election Commission has set the country’s parliamentary election for June 20, after it postponed the April 25 polls in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sri Lanka has reported 309 coronavirus cases and seven deaths so far. A total of 33 infections were detected on April 20, the highest number to be recorded on a single day, prompting authorities to move 1,010 people from a working class neighbourhood in Colombo to quarantine.
(Governance and Institutions, Regional Politics)
361 22-04-2020 - Oil hits two-decade lows on demand, storage woes - June oil futures plunged on Tuesday, as the panic that sent U.S. May futures to below minus $40 per barrel on Monday bled further into the markets due to worries about the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on fuel demand in a market overrun by supply. U.S. crude futures slumped in dramatic fashion on Monday, with the front-month May contract, which expires Tuesday, falling to close at negative-$37.63 a barrel. The fall came as traders scrambled to get out of that contract to avoid taking delivery of barrels for fear of nowhere to store the oil and lack of customers who want to buy it.
(World Economy)
362 22-04-2020 - Pakistan removes names from terrorism watch list - Pakistan has quietly removed around 1,800 terrorists from its watch list, including that of the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, ahead of a new round of assessments by the global anti-money-laundering watchdog FATF, according to a U.S.-based start-up that automates watchlist compliance. The so-called proscribed persons list, which is maintained by Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), is intended in part to help financial institutions avoid doing business with or processing transactions of suspected terrorists. The list in 2018 contained about 7,600 names. It has been reduced to under 3,800 in the past 18 months, according to Castellum.AI, a New York-based regulatory technology company.”
(Terrorism, World Politics)
363 22-04-2020 - China seeks to ease travel curbs to stabilise economy – China has reached an agreement with South Korea to set up a “fast track” procedure for business people to travel between the countries as Beijing looks to ease an entry ban on foreigners imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19. With the deadly disease spreading globally, China last month blocked almost all foreigners from entering as authorities fretted over cases being imported from abroad. Beijing is also in talks with other countries, including Singapore, to set up a similar channel to stabilise economic cooperation and ensure supply chains run smoothly.
(World Economy, World Politics)
364 22-04-2020 - CBDT sticks with Budget’s tax target - Even as the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown to combat it has brought the economy to a near standstill, the Centre has gone ahead and set its Income Tax authorities a daunting target of collecting Rs. 13.2 lakh crore for the fiscal year ending in March 2021. In a correspondence to all Principal Chief Commissioners of Income Tax (PCCIT) dated April 16, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has spelt out zone wise targets for the collection of corporate tax, personal income tax and security transaction tax (STT).
(Indian Economy)
365 22-04-2020 - Trump vows immigration halt, visa hopes to be hit – US President Donald Trump announced that he will sign an executive order to “temporarily suspend” immigration into the US, citing “the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens”. The cryptic tweet convulsed prospective immigrants and immigrant families in the US and immigrant hopefuls and asylum-seekers across the world who aspire for the American dream, making the country the most powerful demographic magnet in the world. The US admits about 1.1 million legal immigrants into the country every year, more than any other country. About 600,000 are new arrivals and about 500,000 are status adjustments of people already in the country. The announcement also threw into turmoil the already-fraught careers and lives of more than three million guest workers and students — nearly a million from India — with its vague opacity. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), nearly three out of four current H-1B visa holders (approximately 310,000 out of 420,000) are from India.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
366 22-04-2020 - For first time since April 8, no COVID-19 deaths in Delhi - For the first time since April 8, no new death was reported due to COVID-19 in the Capital but the city reported 75 fresh cases, taking the total to 2,156. The toll stands at 47. Of the 2,156 cases, 611 have recovered, bringing down the tally of active cases to 1,498. 180 people recovered and the total number of active cases have also decreased. The Delhi government also added three areas to its list of containment zones, taking the total to 87.
(Governance and Institutions)
367 22-04-2020 - India 17th country to hit 20,000 +ve cases, death toll crosses 600 – India on Tuesday registered over 1,336 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total number to 18,985. The total number of deaths stood at 603, while 3,259 people have recovered so far. The country has registered a recovery rate of 17.48%, the Health Ministry said. Reports from the States put the death toll at 646, with 15,498 active cases out of a total of 20,004 cases.
(Governance and Institutions)
368 22-04-2020 - ICMR asks States to stop using rapid tests for the next 2 days – The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) directed the States not to use the COVID-19 rapid testing kits for the next two days following reports of wide variations in results. The kits would be tested and validated by ICMR teams and an advisory issued in the next two days. If they were found to be not up to the mark, replacements would be sought from the manufacturers. The Rajasthan government decided to halt rapid antibody tests after an experts’ team questioned the use of the newly distributed Chinese kits following inaccurate results. The Rajasthan government did rapid tests on 168 confirmed cases but only 5.4% tested positive for antibodies. The majority of the confirmed cases tested negative.
(Governance and Institutions)
369 20-04-2020 - Indian Economy: RBI’s salvo on COVID-19
- RBI allows NBFCs to extend the date for commencement of commercial operations (DCCO) for loans given to commercial real estate by additional one year without considering it as restructuring.
- RBI exempts accounts with moratorium benefits from asset recognition norms for 90 days.
- RBI announces Rs 50,000 crore special refinance facilities for NABARD (Rs 25,000 crore), SIDBI (Rs 15,000 crore), & NHB (Rs 10,000 crore).
- RBI debars commercial and cooperative banks from paying dividends to shareholders and promoter groups.
(Indian Economy)
370 20-04-2020 - Virus traces in non-drinking water supply in Paris: Report – Paris has shut down part of its water system after discovering trace amounts of the novel coronavirus in water used for cleaning streets and watering public gardens. City’s drinking water remains safe. A municipal water management lab discovered “tiny traces” of the virus at 4 of 27 sampling points in the network for non-drinking water. That network is distinct from the city’s potable water system. After the discovery, the city suspended use of the nondrinking water network for public places and is using the potable water system instead. The number of patients in intensive care fell for an 11th. The country also posted the smallest increase in new infections in almost a month, with fewer than 2,000 new infections. Meanwhile, PM Edouard Philippe said that France will unveil within two weeks a plan to progressively lift restrictions on travel and business.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
371 20-04-2020 - Appointments - Calcutta HC judge appointed CJ of Bombay HC - After two months of uncertainty with the senior-most judge tendering his resignation and the second senior-most getting transferred to Meghalaya, Bombay high court will get a new chief justice from Calcutta HC to succeed incumbent Justice B P Dharamdhikari, who retires on April 27. The Supreme Court collegium has decided to recommend to the government to appoint Justice Dipankar Datta of Calcutta HC as the CJ of Bombay HC. Justice Datta is the son of former Calcutta HC judge Salil Kumar Datta and brother-in-law of former SC judge Amitava Roy.
(Constitution and Law, People and Personalities)
372 20-04-2020 - China: Hong Kong protests issue - Hong Kong police arrested 15 activists, including veteran politicians, a publishing tycoon and senior barristers, in raids in the biggest crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement since the outbreak of mass protests last year. Among those detained on charges of illegal assembly were Democratic Party founder Martin Lee, 81, millionaire publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, 71, and former lawmaker and barrister Margaret Ng, 72, according to media and political sources. In all, one serving and nine former legislators were arrested, including veteran activists Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum.
(World Politics)
373 20-04-2020 - COVID-19 update: U.S. President calls for ‘liberating’ States that are shut down – Coronavirus deaths have surged past 1,50,000 worldwide with nearly a quarter of them in the U.S., where President Donald Trump lent his support to protesters rallying against lockdown orders. Evidence is mounting that social distancing successfully slowed the COVID-19 pandemic after more than half of humanity — 4.5 billion people — were confined to their homes.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
374 20-04-2020 - US-Afghan-Taliban issue: Karzai welcomes India’s involvement in talks  - Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has welcomed the American gesture to bring in India into the ongoing negotiation for sustained peace in the war-torn country. The response followed hours after U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad discussed the state of the peace talks and the coronavirus crisis in South Asia with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
375 20-04-2020 - COVID-19 pandemic innovation: Afghan girls turn car parts into ventilators – The war stricken Afghanistan faces the pandemic nearly empty-handed. It has only 400 ventilators for a population of more than 36.6 million. So far, it has reported just over 900 coronavirus cases, including 30 deaths, but the actual number is suspected to be much higher since test kits are in short supply. This has spurred Ms. Farooqi and her team members to help come up with a solution. The members of Afghanistan’s prize-winning girls’ robotics team are on a life-saving mission — to build a breathing machine from used car parts and help their country battle the virus.
(Governance and Institutions)
376 20-04-2020 - COVID-19 pandemic impact: Don’t feed the primates - Feeding monkeys during the COVID-19 pandemic could have profoundly negative effects in the long-term, such as helping the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutate and infect primates, biologists have said in a note, advising caution. Honnavalli M. Kumara, principal scientist at the Salim Ali Center for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), said it was well documented that viruses and endoparasites could transmit between humans and primates.
(Governance and Institutions)
377 20-04-2020 - COVID-19 pandemic measures: PM-CARES donations cut from govt. staff salaries – Employees from a number of government departments and agencies have donated a day’s salary toward the PM-CARES fund. While the donations, meant for COVID-19 relief, were said to be voluntary, government circulars show that the deductions were made directly from salaries. Those unwilling to donate were asked to submit their refusal in writing. The communication come as a surprise to the officers and staff of the department as, they say, typically requests for such contributions come through the employees’ association. Further, employees were never asked to give it in writing if they did not want to donate.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
378 20-04-2020 - COVID-19 pandemic update: E-commerce firms can deliver only essentials – The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) clarified that supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies will remain prohibited during the lockdown. The Ministry also issued guidelines for the movement of migrant labourers living in relief camps to their workplace, within the boundaries of a State, in areas where the lockdown will be relaxed from April 20. The Ministry asserted that there will be no inter-State movement of labourers. They will be registered, screened and those who are asymptomatic would be transported to their places of work by ensuring social distancing measures. The relaxations will not apply to hotspots or containment zones, and public transport will remain prohibited till May 3.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
379 17-04-2020 - Indian Economy - The Reserve Bank warned banks that they will have to pay 200 bps additional penal interest if they fail to invest the mandated 50 per cent of the funds raised through targeted long-term repo operations (TLTRO) route in corporate bonds within a month. The apex bank announced the TLTRO on March 27 to ensure sufficient liquidity in corporate bond market and has already conducted three such operations worth Rs 25,000 crore each. The central bank promised to keep the market fully liquid.
(Indian Economy, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
380 17-04-2020 - No IPL this summer - A day after informing the eight franchises of the Indian Premier League’s indefinite postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has “suspended IPL 2020 till further notice”. While confirming the deferment, BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement released on Thursday the decision had been taken in consultation with franchise owners, broadcaster, sponsors and all stakeholders, adding “the IPL 2020 season will only commence when it is safe and appropriate to do so”.
(Entertainment Games and Sports, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
381 17-04-2020 - Indian Economy: Stock Market - The Indian equity benchmarks gained strong ground in the first half of the session but pared all the gains at the fag end and ended in the red. The 30-share Sensex, which gained nearly 880 points to touch an intra-day high of 31,568.35, closed at 30,379.81, down 310.21 points, or 1.01%. The broader Nifty ended the day at 8,925.30, shedding 68.55 points or 0.76%.
(Indian Economy, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
382 17-04-2020 - Indian Economy: Textile and clothing exports drop - Textile and clothing exports have dropped 6% during the 2019-2020 financial year, with a major fall in March. According to data available, textile and clothing exports in 2018-2019 were worth $35.9 billion and from April 2019 to March 2020 it was worth $ 33.8 billion. In March 2020, exports fell 32.2% compared with the same period last year. Apparel exports, which were about $16.1 billion in 2018-19, fell almost 4% to $15.4 billion, with the March exports alone dropping almost 35% compared with the same month last year.
(Indian Economy, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
383 17-04-2020 - Indian Economy: Rupee hits a new low – The rupee hit a new low against the dollar as it dropped to 76.87 amid concerns of a delay in economic revival following the spread of COVID-19. After opening at 76.75 a dollar as compared with Wednesday’s closing of 76.44, the rupee slipped to 76.87 per dollar at close of day, depreciating 43 paise, or 0.56%. The domestic unit weakened with the dollar strengthening against various currencies.
(Indian Economy, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
384 17-04-2020 - China: Low level nuclear test - China may have secretly set off low-level underground nuclear test explosions despite claiming to observe an international pact banning such blasts, the U.S. State Department said in a report on Wednesday that could fuel U.S.-Chinese tensions. The finding, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, may worsen ties already strained by U.S. charges that the global COVID-19 pandemic resulted from Beijing’s mishandling of a 2019 outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of Wuhan. U.S. concerns about Beijing’s possible breaches of a “zero yield” standard for test blasts have been prompted by activities at China’s Lop Nur nuclear test site throughout 2019.
(World Politics)
385 17-04-2020 - COVID-19 impact: Unproven drugs - A petition filed in the Supreme Court contends that seriously ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care units in hospitals are subjected to “controversial, unproven, non-specific and potentially toxic off-label” use of anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine and broad-spectrum antibiotic Azithromycin without taking any precautionary measures to prevent cardiac complications and possible death. A non-governmental organisation called People for Better Treatment, through its president Dr. Kunal Saha, drew the court’s attention to an extraordinary bulletin issued jointly on April 8 by the American Heart Association (AHA), the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) with stark warnings to doctors about the use of these two drugs on COVID-19 patients with existing cardiac conditions.
(Constitution and Law, Social Issues)
386 17-04-2020 - Bhima-Koregaon violence case - Civil rights campaigner Gautam Navlakha was sent to a seven-day police custody by a city court. Mr. Navlakha, accused of involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon riots of 2018, surrendered to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in New Delhi. NIA had appealed for a ten-day custody of Mr. Navlakha on the ground that custodial interrogation was required for analysing the data and documents retrieved from electronic devices that were recovered during the investigation. Mr. Navlakha’s counsel opposed the application, stating that he was 67 years old and had been falsely implicated in the case. Additional District Judge Sunena Sharma said that considering the nature of allegations, custodial interrogation was indeed required. The Judge then granted the police Mr. Navlakha’s custody for seven days. The court told the investigating officer that Mr. Navlakha must be medically examined every 48 hours.
(People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
387 17-04-2020 - Indian Economy – Record foodgrain production predictated - On the back of a normal monsoon forecast, the Agriculture Ministry is targeting a record foodgrain production of 298.3 million tonnes for 2020-21, higher than the 291.95 million tonnes estimated for 2019-20. The main kharif season crop is rice, and the Agriculture Ministry is targeting a harvest of 102.6 million tonnes, slightly higher than the last kharif season harvest of 101.95 million tonnes. However, it has lowered its rice production target for the next rabi season to 14.9 million tonnes. This means that the total rice production target for 2020-21 is 117.5 million tonnes, barely higher than the previous year's target of 117.47 million tonnes. Wheat production is also expected to remain steady, with a 2020-21 target of 106.5 million tonnes, in comparison to the previous year’s estimate of 106.21 million tonnes. It is targeting a harvest of 48.7 million tonnes of coarse cereals in comparison to the previous season’s 45.24 million tonnes. With regard to pulses, the target is 25.3 million tonnes compared to the previous season's estimates of 23 million tonnes, with the entire increase projected to come from the kharif season. The targeted harvest of oil seed is 36.64 million tonnes, in comparison to the last season's estimates of 34.19 million tonnes.
(Indian Economy, Regional Economy)
388 17-04-2020 - COVID-19 pandemic update – India registered over 800 COVID-19 positive cases, with the tally touching 12,759 cases and 420 deaths. These include over 10,824 active cases. A total of 1,541 people have been cured and discharged and one had migrated. The total number of cases include 76 foreign nationals. The Health Ministry noted that India’s case fatality rate is 3.3% and percentage of people recovered is 12.02. According to reports from the State Health Departments, the total number of COVID-19 cases in India are 13,339, of which 11,289 are active ones. A total of 452 people have died of the disease. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said the rapid testing kit is not for diagnosis but for surveillance, especially in hotspots. A total of 3,02,956 samples from 2,86,714 individuals have been tested as of April 16.
(Social Issues)
389 19-03-2020 - COVID 19 pandemic: 276 Indians infected with virus abroad–With 255 Indians testing positive for the novel coronavirus in Iran and another 21 in other countries, the total number of Indian nationals afflicted with the pandemic rose to 413. The cases within the country touched 162, including 25 foreigners. Globally, the number of cases crossed 2,00,000. The Ministry of External Affairs confirmed in the Lok Sabha that 255 pilgrims visiting Iran from Kashmir and Ladakh had been affected. A third batch of 195 Indians from Iran were brought to Jaisalmer by an Air India aircraft.19 new COVID-19 cases were reported within the country, while 14 persons had been discharged. The number of active cases is now 145.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
390 19-03-2020 - Indian Politics: SCanxious to avoid horse-trading in MP–The Supreme Court on Wednesday said its primary duty in the Madhya Pradesh political controversy is to independently verify whether the 16 dissident MLAs are holed up in Karnataka or have been held “captive” in the BJP-ruled State.The court said it was anxious to avoid horse-trading in Madhya Pradesh but senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, for the Speaker, said the “horses are already in captivity”.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
391 19-03-2020 - Corporate Affairs: GoAir staff left in the lurch after contracts end–A day after GoAir suspended international operations alongside putting its employees on a rotational leave-without-pay programme, letters terminating employee contracts, mostly those of expatriate pilots, went viral on social media.GoAir had temporarily suspended all international flights from March 17 to April 15.GoAir said the airline had to take these drastic steps as India had temporarily banned all passengers coming from a host of countries and vice-versa.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
392 19-03-2020 - Defence: Nod for 83 LCA Tejas Mk-1A–The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh accorded approval for the procurement of 83 indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk-1A from the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) by ‘finalising the contractual and other issues’. The deal is expected to cost around Rs. 39,000 crore.The DAC had given initial clearance for the 83 aircraft in November 2016 and the IAF issued the Request For Proposal in December, 2017. However, negotiations got stuck due to the steep price quoted by HAL, which the IAF said was more than the price of a Su-30MKI.The 83 jets are in addition to the 40 LCA already ordered by the IAF in two batches of 20 each in the Initial Operational Clearance and the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) configurations.The DAC also accorded approval for acquisition of indigenous equipment for about Rs.1,300 crore.
(Defence and Military, Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
393 19-03-2020 - COVID-19 pandemic: Pvt firms get nod to carry out performance studies–The drug regulator has given the nod to Roche Diagnostics and seven other private companies for conducting performance evaluation studies for Covid-19 tests with Roche saying the regulator has given its approval in record time. The approvals, however, mean that the companies cannot yet commercialise or conduct the tests in open market till the regulator gives a final approval following the validation process. Roche said the Indian regulator gave approval in “record time”, while the US regulator did so a few days earlier.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
394 19-03-2020 - Economy:Hit by bug, sensex tanks 1,710 more points–Despite a 1,000-point rally in the Dow Jones, the sensex crashed another 1,710 points to close at 28,870 with banking & financial stocks, along with RIL, leading the slide as fears of a coronavirus-induced recession continued. On the domestic front, fears about rising bad loans for banks with exposure to the telecom sector also weighed on the index, market players said. And if early trades on the Wall Street are any indication—with the Dow and S&P500 indices each down over 6%—there could be more pain for Dalal Street.NSE Nifty crashes 498 points (–4.8%) to close at 8,469.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
395 19-03-2020 - Infrastructure Projects on Project Monitoring Group (PMG) Portal reviewed by the Commerce Ministry –Minister of Commerce & Industry, chaired a meeting for the review of 17 large-size infrastructure projects in Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). PMG is an institutional mechanism of DPIIT to expedite resolution of issues and removal of regulatory bottlenecks in projects, with investments upward of Rs. 500 crores in India. Invest India provides implementation support to PMG in identifying and following up on issues with the States.
(Indian Economy, Indian Politics, Infrastructure, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
396 19-03-2020 - Eleven ‘Renewable Energy Management Centres' (REMC) inaugurated by Union Power Minister – These REMCs, built at a cost of Rs. 409 crore, will make it possible for the country to have more of renewable energy, particularly wind. Without these, absorption of large packets of intermittent electricity from wind and solar plants would not be possible. Public sector major Power Grid Corporation of India is overseeing the setting up of these REMCs on behalf of the Ministry of Power.One REMC will come up in the National Load Dispatch Centre, three in as many Regional Load Dispatch Centres and seven in the State Load Dispatch Centres.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Science and Technology, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
397 19-03-2020 - Economy –RBI unveils regulatory guidelines for implementation of Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS) by NBFCs (non-banking financial companies) and ARCs (asset reconstruction companies) while preparing their financial results.
(Indian Economy, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
398 19-03-2020 - PM Modi to lead International Yoga Day (June 21) event in Leh this year -The main national event for the International Day of Yoga will be held at Leh, the capital of Ladakh this year. The event, which is held on the 21st of June every year, will be led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi..
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
399 18-03-2020 - COVID-19 pandemic: Third death in India–India reported its third death from the COVID-19 pandemic putting the number of positive cases at 137.The deceased person had a history of travel to Dubai and was being treated in Mumbai. According to experts, though community transmission of COVID-19 has not yet occurred in the country51 private laboratories [accredited to the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)] will soon be allowed to test for COVID-19 to enhance capacity for diagnosis in addition to the 72 functional laboratories.The Union Health Ministry has made it mandatory for private institutions to notify COVID-19 patients while the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has appealed to private labs which have approached them to offer the test for free.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
400 18-03-2020 - Madhya Pradesh: SC asks government to respond on floor test –The Supreme Court asked the Kamal Nath government to respond to a petition filed by former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and nine other BJP MLAs, seeking a vote of confidence on the floor of the Legislative Assembly against the Congress ruling dispensation in the State. A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said the “urgency” of the situation demanded a hearing on March 18 itself. The court gave liberty to serve the notice through email. It also gave liberty to serve notice on 16 MLAs who have tendered their resignations.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
401 18-03-2020 - COVID-19 pandemic: Diagnostic tests being evaluated–Two diagnostic tests for COVID-19 — the first to be developed in India — are currently being evaluated by the National Institute of Virology in Pune. The government said it was readying guidelines for private diagnostic companies to develop tests to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus. All companies — and the ICMR themselves — currently rely on multinational companies for their diagnostic test kits. To accelerate development of drugs and diagnostics, the government will be forming a Rapid Response Regulatory Framework to rapidly evaluate potential diagnostic kits and vaccines against COVID-19. Currently these processes, led by the Drug Controller General of India and Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation, take 30-45 days, and the proposed farme work aims to bring the cycle to 7 days.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
402 18-03-2020 - Indian Politics: Newly appointed Rajya Sabha (RS) Member Ex CJI Ranjan Gogoi defends RS nomination –Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi justified his nomination to the Rajya Sabha but declined to elaborate upon the reasons that made him weigh and accept the offer.President Ram Nath Kovind named Mr.Gogoi for one of the 12 seats to which members are nominated.The former CJI, who supervised the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens in Assam and delivered the judgment in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. Opposition parties were of view that people’s confidence in judiciary has shaken by this move. Congress said that it is an assault on Constitution.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
403 18-03-2020 - Defence: Like army now in navy too, women officers to be granted permanent commission–The Supreme Court upheld the right of serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers of the Navy to be granted permanent commission (PC) on a par with their male counterparts. A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi said the “101 excuses” devised by the government, including motherhood and physiological limitations, reeked of a stereotypical mindset.The judgment was based on a case filed by 17 women SSC officers, represented by senior advocate Aishwarya Bhati, who were denied PC and discharged despite completing 14 years of service as SSC officers..
(Constitution and Law, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
404 18-03-2020 - Middle-East: Ex-Governor Zurfi named Iraqi PM –Iraq’s President designated Adnan al-Zurfi, a former regional Governor with little national political profile, as Prime Minister, tasked with forming a government within 30 days in a bid to overcome months of unrest and political deadlock. Mr.Zurfi, who served as Governor of the predominantly Shi’ite Najaf province during the U.S. occupation after the fall of Saddam Hussein, is head of the small Nasr parliamentary group of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a U.S. ally. President Barham Salih had named Mr.Zurfi only after larger rival Shi’ite political parties failed to decide on a successor to Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November during mass unrest, in which hundreds of people died. Mr.Zurfi, who lived in the U.S. as a refugee in the 1990s after fleeing Saddam, is seen as a comparatively secular figure. He now has to win the confidence of Parliament for his new Cabinet.
(People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
405 18-03-2020 - Trump administration seeks $850 billion stimulus fund – U.S. President Donald Trump will ask Congress to approve a massive $850 billion emergency spending package to contain the growing economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures are expected to include a payroll tax cut and $50 billion in aid to troubled U.S. airlines hit hard by the near total shutdown in the travel industry, The Washington Post reported, citing four officials familiar with the matter. The package, which is in addition to the $100 billion in spending directed at paid sick leave and expanded unemployment benefits already moving through Congress.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Economy)
406 18-03-2020 - Yes Bank all set to lift deposit withdrawal cap – Private sector lender Yes Bank has assured all its customers they need not worry about their deposits after the moratorium is lifted, as branches and automated teller machines (ATMs) will have adequate cash. The moratorium, which was imposed on March 5 with deposit withdrawals capped at Rs. 50,000, will be lifted on March 18 at 6 p.m. This is the first time in banking history that a moratorium will be lifted from a commercial bank as, in all previous cases, such lenders were merged with other banks.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
407 18-03-2020 - FPI sales at a record high–Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), who have been the prime drivers of every bull run that the Indian capital market has seen till date, have been record sellers during the current month.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
408 18-03-2020 - Suspension of 7 Congress Lok Sabha MPs revoked by Speaker Om Birla -The suspension of seven Congress Lok Sabha MPs on March 5 was revoked by Speaker Om Birla on March 11, 2020. They had been suspended on charges of “gross misconduct” in the House. The seven Congress MPs include Gaurav Gogoi, TN Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, R Unnithan, Manickam Tagore, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
409 17-03-2020 - No pre-arrest bail for activists Navlakha and Teltumbde–The Supreme Court rejected pleas made by activists Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha for pre-arrest bail in the Bhima Koregaon case. A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M. R. Shah invoked Section 43D (4) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and held that the provision “bars” the relief of anticipatory bail. The Bench made it clear that there seemed to be “prima facie evidence” under the UAPA.
(Constitution and Law, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
410 17-03-2020 - WEF Young Global Leaders List–Five Indians named by World Economic Forum (WEF) in its new list of 115 Young Global Leaders (under the age of 40): Tara Singh Vachani (CEO of Antara Senior Living), Vinati Mutreja (MD and CEO, Vinati Organics Ltd), and Swapan Mehra (CEO, Iora Ecological Solutions), Byju Classes’ founder Byju Raveendran and Zomato’s co-founder Gaurav Gupta.
(People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
411 17-03-2020 - Gantz chosen to form Israel govt. - Israel’s ex-military chief Benny Gantz was nominated to try to form a government but further talks were expected with his bitter rival, Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, on an emergency alliance to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr.Gantz, who heads the centrist Blue and White party, called for “unity” and urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to join him as Israel seeks to end a crippling political stalemate after three inconclusive elections in less than a year. Mr.Gantz, 60, won recommendations from 61 lawmakers, a razor thin majority in the 120-member Knesset, or Parliament. His backers did not include Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, but Mr.Rivlin has urged the two men to work together in an emergency unity government, in order to avoid a national policy vacuum in response to the pandemic.

(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
412 17-03-2020 - Sri Lanka Opposition parties ask President to postpone election - Many Opposition parties in Sri Lanka have called for postponing the general election scheduled for April 25, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. Their request comes a day after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told SAARC leaders that Sri Lanka’s parliamentary election will be held as scheduled.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
413 17-03-2020 - Nath rules out floor test after meeting Governor – Capping a day of hectic political activity, MP CM Kamal Nath called on Governor Lalji Tandon at the Raj Bhavan. He later ruled out holding a floor test in the Assembly, claiming that his government enjoyed a majority. The Speaker’s decision, soon after the Governor’s address on the first day of the Budget session, scuttled an expected floor test.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
414 17-03-2020 - Zero tolerance: Centre notifies new Pocso rules - The government has notified the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Rules 2020, enabling implementation of recent amendments to the Act that made punishment provisions more stringent and, for the first time, defined child pornography and provided for crackdown for possession of pornographic material involving children. The Pocso rules became effective from March 9. The rules specify that state governments must formulate a child protection policy based on the principle of zero-tolerance to violence against children, which shall be adopted by all institutions, organisations, or any other agency working with children.
(Constitution and Law, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
415 17-03-2020 - Travel from EU, U.K. banned as India tightens preventive steps - In a series of temporary preventive measures, the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 banned the entry of travellers from European Union nations, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom to India from March 18. After its seventh meeting on the COVID-19 outbreak, the GoM also called for expanding the compulsory quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days for passengers coming from/transiting through UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. Central government sets up a central helpline -- 011-23978046 -- related to coronavirus outbreak.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
416 17-03-2020 - COVID 19 pandemic - Odisha reports first case - The Union Health Ministry update on COVID-19 cases reported four new cases, taking the tally to 114 confirmed cases, including 13 discharges and two deaths, and 5,200 contacts, who are under surveillance. One fresh case each was reported from Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kerala. But reports from States put the total number of cases, including fatalities, at 123. The highest number of cases at 39, is from Maharashtra, with two more people, including a Philippine national, testing positive. With one more confirmation, Karnataka now has eight cases.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
417 17-03-2020 - NCOIS launches three new advance warning systems - The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has launched three new products for the benefit of fishermen, people living in coastal areas of South India. First, the Small Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS). Second, Swell Surge Forecast System (SSFS) and third Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS). All three products are available for free and will help in significantly reducing damage and losses for the users concerned and for authorities to make contingency plans for reducing damage.
(People and Personalities, Science and Technology, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
418 17-03-2020 - The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has launched ‘Higher Education Leadership Development Programme for Administrators’ in New Delhi - The programme is a joint initiative of University Grants Commission (UGC) and the British Council under the auspices of UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI). It is to train the senior and middle level academic administrators to enable them to bring about systemic changes with renewed approaches, capacity, tools and skill in Universities in India. The programme is a step towards institutional development in line with Governments’ commitment to improve the quality of education being imparted in Universities.
(Education, Governance and Institutions, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
419 16-03-2020 - Confirmed COVID-19 cases rise to 114 –Figures released by the Union Health Ministry late on Sunday put the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country at 110. However, according to reports from States, 114 persons have tested positive. Of the new cases, two were from Maharashtra, two from Kerala and one each from Rajasthan, Karnataka, Telangana and Uttarakhand. Ten persons have so far been discharged after treatment.The government has maintained that no cases of community transmission — people testing positive for the virus who have no traceable link to travellers who’ve come into India from abroad — have been detected..
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
420 16-03-2020 - Modi calls for SAARC emergency fund–The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should create a fund to fight the threat of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced.Addressing the first-ever video conference of the heads of member countries, he extended $10 million as India’s contribution to the fund
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
421 16-03-2020 - Crucial test of strength for Kamal Nath govt. –The fate of the Congress-led government in Madhya Pradesh is set to be decided in a floor test. Although 92 Congress and four Independent MLAs returned to Bhopal from Jaipur, there was no sign of either the 107 BJP or 16 rebel Congress MLAs. The Kamal Nath government was pushed to the brink following the exit of senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and the block of 16 lawmakers owing allegiance to him. It will now have to secure the votes of at least 112 MLAs to prove its simple majority in the Assembly, which has an effective strength of 222 after the resignation of six Congress MLAs and the death of two MLAs in the 230-member House.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
422 16-03-2020 - Cong. suffers Rajya Sabha setback in Gujarat as four MLAs resign –Four Congress MLAs in Gujarat have tendered their resignation to the Assembly Speaker, delivering a blow to the party ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in the State. The party was hoping to wrest two of the four seats from the State, but will now have to either withdraw one of the two candidates or face defeat in the second seat.All three candidates fielded by the ruling BJP — Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramila Bara and Narhari Amin, who is a former Congress leader — are likely to win, along with one candidate of the Congress now.The legislators who resigned are Somabhai Patel from Limbadi, J.V. Kakadia from Dhari, Pravin Maru from Gadhada and Pradhyumansinh Jadeja from Abdasa.
(Indian Economy, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
423 16-03-2020 - Covid-19 cases to be discharged only after 2 negative tests in 24 hrs: Govt –The government has issued a discharge policy for Covid-19 cases under which a positive case shall be managed as per protocol and discharged after only two samples test negative within 24 hours and there’s evidence of chest radiographic clearance and viral clearance in respiratory samples. Cases of suspected coronavirus, who test negative in the first instance, can be discharged on doctor’s advice but will be monitored for 14 days after their last contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
424 16-03-2020 - COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 years away –Senior health officials have said a COVID-19 vaccine will take at least two years to develop even with expedited clinical trials and approvals..
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
425 16-03-2020 - Delhi riots: Around 14 people have been arrested in last couple of days, one for stabbing IB man. Delhi Police arrested 14 people in connection with the northeast Delhi riots. The accused have been booked on charges of murder, attempted murder and rioting. Police have also identified six women who were involved in the mayhem at Chand Bagh in which a cop was killed and two others were critically injured. Raids are on to nab them. They were identified through mobile videos and CCTV footage.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
426 16-03-2020 - Travel industry faces 80% cancellations – With India quarantining itself for the next one month and advising people against all non-essential travel, the hospitality and travel industry is bracing for what is likely to be one of its toughest years on record. The peak travel season between April to June is facing large cancellations due to the coronavirus scare, while the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has petitioned PM Narendra Modi and the tourism ministry, seeking their urgent intervention in rolling out relief measures for the sector. Claiming that the industry is facing up to 80% cancellations in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, the association has also sought the creation of a corpus to bail out the “sinking” industry.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
427 16-03-2020 - Aramco slips 9%, now below IPO price –Shares of Saudi state oil company Aramco slumped below their initial public offering (IPO) price for the first time since they began trading in December, after Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (Opec’s) pact with Russia to restrict oil supplies fell apart.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Economy)
428 16-03-2020 - Ambedkar museum in UK gets lease of life – A museum dedicated to Dr Ambedkar, at the north London house he lived in from 1921-22 while a student, has been saved after the UK government approved an appeal by the Maharashtra government against its closure. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick, allowed the appeal on March 12. By granting retrospective planning permission, the museum, bought by the state government in September 2015 at a cost of Rs 31 crore, will remain at 10 King Henry’s Road. The government also quashed an enforcement notice from Camden Council ordering the museum’s closure on November 16, 2018.
(Governance and Institutions, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
429 14-03-2020 - COVID-19 pandemic updates –India reported its second COVID-19 death, with a 68-year-old woman from west Delhi succumbing to the infection at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, while the number of positive cases touched 82. With the country in the second stage of transmission of the disease, countrywide containment efforts were launched. Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha announced the closure of schools, colleges, malls and theatres and cancellation of public events till March 31, while Haryana ordered a ban.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
430 14-03-2020 - Farooq set free from detention–In a significant step to allow the resumption of regional politics, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday released National Conference (NC) president and MP Farooq Abdullah, 82, by revoking his detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA). Dr. Abdullah, who was in detention for over seven months, said his “freedom is incomplete till other detained leaders are released”. Dr. Abdullah has become the first of the three incarcerated former Chief Ministers to be set free since the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomous status on August 5 last. NC vice-president Omar Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti remain in detention in Srinagar.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Regional Politics, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
431 14-03-2020 - Delhi Assembly passes resolution against NPR, NRC –The Delhi Assembly passed a resolution against the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at a special session. By conducting the NPR exercise across the nation, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged during his address, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government was attempting to “divert” the attention of people from “the real issues” being faced by the country such as unemployment and economic crises.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
432 14-03-2020 - UP clears Ordinance for recovery of damages –The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government gave its approval to an Ordinance for the recovery of damage to public and private property during protests. U.P. Finance Minister Suresh Khanna announced the decision of the State Cabinet, which gave its consent to the U.P. Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property Ordinance, 2020. The government decision came a day after the SC  did not stay the Allahabad HC order to the Lucknow administration to “forthwith” remove roadside hoardings displaying the personal details of persons accused of vandalism and arson during the protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act last December.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
433 14-03-2020 - Pehlu Khan case: minor convicts sent to special home –Two minors convicted of participating in the murder of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan as members of a mob of cow vigilantes in 2017 were sent by Alwar’s Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to a special home for three years. Six persons accused of having led the attack were acquitted by a sessions court in August last year. The convicts, who were minors when they committed the crime, are in the age group of 18-21 now. They are likely to be shifted to a special home on the Central Jail premises in Jaipur.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
434 14-03-2020 - Sengar, 6 others get 10-year jail –A special court sentenced expelled UP  BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and six others to 10 years imprisonment in two cases linked to the death of the Unnao rape victim’s father in 2018. Sengar and his brother, Jaideep alias Atul Singh, have also been directed to pay Rs. 10 lakh each as compensation to the family of the deceased. Among those convicted are the then Makhi Police Station in-charge Ashok Singh Bhadauria and then Sub-Inspector K. P. Singh. The court asked the State government to take appropriate action against the doctors whose medical negligence led to the death of the girl's father. On March 4, Sengar was held guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
435 14-03-2020 - Centre announces Common Eligibility Test–Applicants for jobs in railways, banks and lower levels of Central government will now write a Common Eligibility Test (CET) from 2021.In a bid to streamline the hiring process for government agencies as well as the 2.5 crore candidates who apply each year, the Centre will set up an autonomous National Recruitment Agency (NRA) to conduct this online test, under which, candidates can apply through a common registration portal.NRA proposal would soon go for Cabinet approval.The CET will replace the first level tests conducted by the Staff Selection Commission, the Railway Recruitment Board and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection.
(Governance and Institutions, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
436 14-03-2020 - Pro-democracy march in Thailand– Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters marched in Bangkok, wearing black T-shirts to mourn the state of Thailand under an Army-aligned government, in the first street protest for several years. Discontent with the administration of ex-Army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha is seething, with a progressive Opposition party disbanded and the country’s economy faltering as the COVID-19 crisis batters the key tourism industry. Thailand voted Mr.Prayut’s conservative government into power a year ago. It was the first election since a 2014 coup and held under an Army-scripted Constitution that critics say gave Mr.Prayut an unfair advantage.
(Defence and Military, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Economy, World Politics)
437 14-03-2020 - Even more disturbed middle-east - Civilian among 6 dead in US strikes on Iraq –US air strikes targeting pro-Iranian military factions in Iraq killed one civilian and five security personnel, the raids risked a bloody escalation in the war-battered country. The Pentagon said the strikes were in retaliation for rocket fire against an Iraqi base that killed one British and two U.S. military personnel, the deadliest such attack in years. The U.S. strikes hit bases hosting personnel from the state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi military network. The same bases also host Iraqi government forces.
(Defence and Military, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
438 14-03-2020 - Bulls quarantine bears – Investors thought it would be a Black Friday as the barometer Sensex yo-yoed 5,400 points and the Nifty hit the lower circuit breaker of 10% as trading ground to a halt, albeit temporarily. But the markets sprang a surprise, ending in the green. The Sensex, which had touched a low of 29,388.97 during the morning session, rebounded to a high of 34,769.48 before closing at 34,103.48, up 1,325.34 points or 4.04%. The broader Nifty settled at 9,955.20, gaining 365.05 points, or 3.81%.

(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Economy)
439 13-03-2020 - India’s first COVID-19 death in Karnataka; cases touch 74 - Health officials in Karnataka reported the country’s first COVID-19 death after samples of a 76-year-old man, who was a suspected COVID-19 patient and passed away, tested positive for the disease. The patient from Kalaburgi also had co-morbidities such as asthma, hypertension and diabetes. He had returned from Saudi Arabia on February 29. According to reports, he fell ill soon after and was admitted to a private hospital and later shifted to the Gulbarga Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS). His throat swab was sent to check for COVID-19 infection.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
440 13-03-2020 - Sensex slumps 2,919 points, Nifty sinks to 33-month low - A day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, equity markets worldwide went into a bear phase — denoted by more than 20% fall from the recent highs of the benchmarks. The Indian benchmarks registered their biggest single-day fall , with the Sensex plunging 2,919.26 points, or 8.18%, to close at 32,778.14 — over 22% lower than its January high of 42,273.87. This was the lowest close for the index in nearly two years. All 30 stocks in the Sensex ended the day with deep losses, with heavyweights such as HDFC Bank, TCS, Axis Bank, ONGC, State Bank of India (SBI) and ICICI Bank shedding over 9% each. Most of the Sensex constituents touched their 52-week lows.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous, United Nations)
441 13-03-2020 - Delhi declares COVID-19 an epidemic, shuts schools, colleges and cinemas - The COVID-19 was declared an epidemic by the Delhi government. Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal chaired a meeting at Raj Niwas with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to review the preparedness to contain the disease. All cinemas, schools and colleges — except those where exams are on — will remain shut till March 31. Disinfecting all public and private places will be made compulsory. The Delhi government is preparing more quarantine facilities. Rashtrapati Bhavan will remain closed for exploratory tour visits from March 13 till further notice.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
442 13-03-2020 - Supreme Court refers appeal against posters to larger Bench - A Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court  did not stay an Allahabad High Court order to the district and police authorities in Lucknow to ‘forthwith’ remove roadside banners displaying the personal details of persons accused of ‘vandalism’ during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests in December 2019. It ordered that the case be listed before an appropriate Bench in the coming week. The court reopens after Holi vacations on March 16. On March 9, a High Court Bench, led by Chief Justice Govind Mathur, held that the wayside posters were a violation of individual privacy, a fundamental right which globally ‘underpins human dignity and key values of a democracy’.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
443 13-03-2020 - Retail inflation eases to 6.58%, industrial production quickens - Retail inflation based on the Consumer Price Index slowed to 6.58% in February, while the industrial production growth as measured in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) quickened to 2% in January amid subdued performance by the manufacturing sector. Retail inflation, which was 7.59% in January 2020 and 2.57% in February 2019, slowed mainly due to easing food prices. Inflation in the food basket was 10.81% February 2020, lower from 13.63% in the previous month.
(Indian Economy, Infrastructure, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
444 13-03-2020 - IPL to be played in front of empty stands? - The Sports Ministry has asked all the national sports federations, including the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), to adhere to the Health Ministry’s guidelines on barring all “public gatherings.” The Ministry of External Affairs advised the BCCI not to go ahead with the Indian Premier League (IPL) “at this time” but left it to the discretion of the board. The BCCI continued to explore various options ahead of IPL Governing Council (GC) meeting to decide the fate of the 13th edition which is scheduled to start in Mumbai on March 29.
(Entertainment Games and Sports, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
445 13-03-2020 - Colour-blind may soon be eligible for driving licence - Colour blindness may not remain a bar any more for getting a licence to drive private vehicles and those with ‘mild or moderate colour vision deficiency’ may get to drive commercial vehicles too. The road transport ministry is preparing the draft norms after a panel of ophthalmologists from AIIMS gave its recommendations on this issue. The ministry had referred the case to AIIMS. Debarring people with colour blindness would impact around 3% of the population.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
446 13-03-2020 - Trump suspends travel from Europe to US –US President Donald Trump has announced sweeping travel restrictions on 26 European countries in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The ban applies to travellers from countries which are members of the Schengen border-free travel area. The UK, Ireland and other non-Schengen countries are unaffected. US citizens are also exempt. The EU condemned the measures, which it said were taken "unilaterally and without consultation". There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths so far.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
447 13-03-2020 - Coronavirus Outbreak –COVID may delay roll-out of Vivad se Vishwas scheme - Vivad se Vishwas, the government’s flagship scheme for resolving direct tax disputes, may get an extended deadline beyond March 31 on account of the coronavirus outbreak and a late notification, which is still to come.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
448 13-03-2020 - Ujjwala may get a facelift with refills at doorsteps - Soon, consumers might get an option to refill cooking gas cylinders for amounts as small as Rs. 50-100 at their doorstep. The option can be exercised after the proposed introduction of mobile liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vans across the country.
(Indian Economy, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
449 12-03-2020 - COVID-19 now a pandemic, says WHO; India confirms 60 cases–The World Health Organization (WHO) said that according to its assessment, COVID-19 “can be characterised as a pandemic”.According to the WHO, a pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations. It noted with concern that 1,18,000 positive cases had been reported in 114 countries, and more than 90% of cases were in just four.With 60 confirmed cases in India, the Central government issued a travel advisory stating that all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till April 15, and this order will come into effect from March 13 at the port of departure.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
450 12-03-2020 - Jyotiraditya Scindia joins BJP, says Congress is in denial –Former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia formally joined the BJP after resigning from the primary membership of the Congress. He lauded the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and said the Congress was in ‘denial’ about reality.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
451 12-03-2020 - SC to hear Uttar Pradesh plea on Lucknow banners today –The SC will hear an appeal filed by the UP government challenging an Allahabad High Court order to the district and police authorities in Lucknow to ‘forthwith’ remove roadside banners displaying the personal details of select persons accused of ‘vandalism’ during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in December 2019. A Vacation Bench of Justices U.U. Lalit and Aniruddha Bose is scheduled to hear the State’s special leave petition. The petition is against the finding of a Bench led by Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Govind Mathur that had suo motu taken cognisance of the issue.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
452 12-03-2020 - RBI taps private investors to take stakes in Yes Bank –The RBI has drawn up a revival plan for Yes Bank whereby not just capital but also funding lines will be finalised to ensure there is no liquidity issue while lifting the moratorium imposed on March 5. Meanwhile, investors in the additional tier one (AT1) bonds have agreed to a plan where 80% of their investment will be written off and the remaining 20% will be converted into equity. While the contours of the deal have been finalised, the plan to lift the moratorium by the weekend may not materialise as many investors in the consortium have to get internal approvals to invest.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
453 12-03-2020 - In war against corona, India quarantines it self from world –In an unprecedented response to the rapid spread of Covid-19 across continents, the government decided to virtually quarantine India from the rest of the world, suspending all visas, except those issued for diplomatic, official, UN-international organisations, employment and projects till April 15. Visa-free travel facility for Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders will be in abeyance and foreign nationals seeking to travel to India have to state a compelling reason.
(Governance and Institutions, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, United Nations)
454 12-03-2020 - Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison–Harvey Weinstein was sentenced in a New York courtroom to 23 years in prison, the culmination of a case that fueled the global #MeToo movement and encouraged women to speak out against sexual abuse.Weinstein, 67, arrived at his sentencing hearing in a wheelchair and in handcuffs. He had faced between five and 29 years in prison for last month's convictions on first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
455 12-03-2020 - Taliban reject Afghan president’s conditional prisoner release plan–Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has signed a decree for the release of 1,500 Taliban prisoners as part of a historic peace deal between the militant group and the US but the Afghan leader refused to release all 5,000 prisoners immediately, as demanded by the Taliban under the Feb. 29 agreement. Taliban leaders condemned Ghani’s proposal, saying it violated the accord signed with the US. The Taliban had promised to take part in talks with the government as part of the deal, but said on Wednesday that they would not join negotiations until all the prisoners had been freed.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
456 12-03-2020 - US Presidential Elections: Joe Biden wins string of key primaries in major blow to Bernie Sanders – Joe Biden secured a key victory in the Democratic presidential nomination race by winning the vital state of Michigan and delivering a major blow to his rival, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. The former vice-president also notched wins in the primaries in Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho. North Dakota went to Sanders, and Washington is still to declare. Speaking from Philadelphia, Biden sounded confident about Tuesday’s election results and struck a tone that hinted his race against Donald Trump might be beginning.
(People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
457 12-03-2020 - Over 100 people in Yes Bank's 'top management' may lose ESOPs, bonuses –The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is considering clawing back the employee stock options and bonuses issued to the entire top management of YES Bank to date. A closer look at how the beleaguered bank went about classifying its “top management” is also on the cards, given that there are more than 100 people in this category — several times the number in much larger private banks — and the sharp fluctuations in the same over the years. The first-of-its-kind move will mark the activation of the banking regulator’s ironclad November 4, 2019 guidelines on the compensation of whole time directors, chief executive officers, material risk takers and control function staff in banks.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
458 12-03-2020 - SBI cuts interest rate on savings accounts to 3%– The State Bank of India (SBI) on March 11 cut the interest rate on all savings bank accounts to a flat 3 percent. The bank also waived off the requirement of maintaining an average monthly minimum balance (AMB) in its savings accounts. These moves will affect all 44.51 crore savings account holders of the SBI.Currently, for deposits up to Rs 1 lakh in savings accounts with SBI, the interest rate is 3.25 percent. An interest rate of 3 percent is applicable for deposits above Rs 1 lakh.The charges on maintaining AMB are now waived off on all 44.51 crore SBI savings bank accounts. At present, a penalty of Rs 5 to Rs 15 plus taxes is levied by the bank on non-maintenance of AMB.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
459 11-03-2020 - MP govt wobbles as Scindia and 22 MLAs quit, set to join BJP –Jyotiraditya Scindia made it an unhappy Holi for Congress, quitting the party, which triggered 22 MLA resignations and pushed the Kamal Nath government to the brink. Seventeen of the MLAs who have resigned are from the Scindia faction, and two were already incommunicado. Three others joined them, including one brought back from Bengaluru. BJP took the resignations to Speaker N P Prajapati, who said he would take a decision only after getting legal opinion. If the resignations are accepted, it’ll reduce Congress’s strength in the 230-member House to 92, and BJP, with 107 MLAs, could stake claim to form government. There were reports of an SP and a BSP MLA—who have so far supported the Congress government—meeting Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the three-time BJP CM.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
460 11-03-2020 - 5 corona cases confirmed in Maha, Kerala put under lockdown–India’s count of coronavirus cases rose by 18 to 62 with eight testing positive in Kerala, five in Maharashtra, four in Karnataka and one in J&K. A Pune couple, their daughter, one of their co-travellers from a group of 40 on a Dubai trip, and the cab driver who drove the family from Mumbai to Pune on March 1 on their return were the five confirmed cases in Pune. Meanwhile, the Kerala government went on high alert after eight new cases were reported. Government sources said the number of cases is expected to rise and have imposed a host of regulations, including shutting down all educational institutions and cinema halls till March 31. All government functions too have been suspended till the monthend. The CM urged all religious heads and institutions to organise events without mass gatherings.

(Governance and Institutions, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
461 11-03-2020 - Yes Bank moratorium likely to be lifted this weekend –Yes Bank’s resolution is likely to happen as early as this weekend, according to RBI-appointed administrator Prashant Kumar. The bank’s administrator has made it clear that availability of funds is not an issue at all and full services will be restored when the moratorium is lifted. The bank has also enabled inward fund transfer through IMPS and NEFT to enable credit card bill repayments. The bank has been assured cash lines from RBI and SBI. Between the two, the bank is assured of enough liquidity to meet withdrawal demand even when the moratorium is lifted.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
462 11-03-2020 - After worst one-day fall in history, Dalal St expects sensex to stabilise –Dalal Street investors are expecting a stable session after a day’s break when most markets around the world stabilised following manic sell-offs. The day’s selling in India, led by foreign funds, had resulted in a record 1,942-point crash in the sensex to 35,635, a one-year-low level that also wiped out over Rs 7 lakh crore worth of investors’ wealth. Market players are also likely to take solace from a Sebi statement that indirectly said that there was no problem with the Indian market and the sell-off was due to external reasons.However, bond market players expect some volatility, mainly due to the RBI’s decision last week to extinguish Yes Bank’s AT1 bonds—a type of debt instrument that was perceived to be highly secured—as part of the proposed restructuring plan of the lender.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
463 11-03-2020 - Threat of coronavirus pandemic now 'very real': WHO–The World Health Organization warned there was now a "very real" threat that the new coronavirus outbreak will become a pandemic, but stressed the virus could still be controlled.After global COVID-19 infections passed the 100,000-mark, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told that "the threat of a pandemic has become very real."But he stressed, "even if we call it a pandemic, still we can contain it and control it.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
464 11-03-2020 - Ghani sworn in as Afghan president, rival holds own inauguration –Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has taken an oath for a second term but his main rival Abdullah has refused to recognise the inauguration, holding his own swearing-in ceremony, landing the country in a new political crisis. International representatives, including US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, and US and NATO forces commander General Scott Miller, attended Ghani's inauguration at the Presidential palace in the capital, Kabul.Abdullah Abdullah rejected the presidential election results announced last month, saying Ghani's win was invalid because of vote-rigging in a repeat of the 2014 elections marred by fraud.
(Defence and Military, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
465 11-03-2020 - Max von Sydow, Star of 'The Seventh Seal' and 'The Exorcist,' Dies at 90 – Max von Sydow, the legend of Swedish cinema who dueled with Death in a game of chess in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal and portrayed the resolute Father Merrin in William Friedkin's The Exorcist, has died. He was 90. Von Sydow, who starred in 11 films directed by Bergman, typically playing a tormented protagonist, died at his home in Provence, France.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
466 11-03-2020 - Demand slump: Farm items’ price fall raises rural pain fear– Increased supplies and some demand destruction caused by Covid-19 have of late resulted in a correction of prices of food items including vegetables, non-perishables like cereals and sugar as also chicken and egg. This could give some relief to the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which is struggling to find room for a rate cut amid elevated inflation, even as growth pangs weigh heavily on its mind but the drop in prices of food crop could adversely impact rural consumption which apparently has shown signs of revival lately.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Economy)
467 11-03-2020 - Falling LNG prices to revive prospects of stressed power units –Falling spot prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) makes this an opportune time for revival of stressed gas-based power assets in the country. LNG prices are currently at $5 per million metric British thermal unit (mmbtu), down from a peak of $10 per mmbtu as recently as November 2018.
(Science and Technology, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Economy)
468 11-03-2020 - Foreign pension funds may soon get more freedom– Deep reforms are on the anvil in the country’s pension market, with plans to permit foreign pension funds to set up independent pension trusts and make the Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA) the sole authority to allow a pension product into the market.

(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Economy)
469 09-03-2020 - Five new COVID-19 cases in Kerala; total in India now 39 –Five persons, including two women from Pathanamthitta in Kerala, tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of confirmed cases across the country to 39. Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said the State had been put on high alert in the wake of the new cases. The Minister added that all the passengers who travelled with the infected family on the Venice-Doha Qatar airlines QR 126 flight on February 29 and the Qatar Airlines flight QR514 from Doha to Kochi on March 1 should get in touch with health authorities.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
470 09-03-2020 - After 15 hours of questioning, Rana Kapoor arrested by ED–After being grilled for more than 15 hours, Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor was placed under arrest by the Enforcement Directorate. The central agency first questioned Mr.Kapoor at his Worli residence on Friday and later brought him to its office on Saturday morning, where he was questioned throughout the day.ED officials stopped his daughter, Roshni, from taking a flight to London as she is required to join the probe in the PMLA case.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
471 09-03-2020 - Former Minister and PDP leader Bukhari floats a party –Businessman-turned-politician and former Minister Altaf Bukhari, 60, floated the J&K Apni Party (JKAP) as an alternative to regional parties such as the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), of which he was once a member. The JKAP becomes the first Valley-based regional party since 1947 that stands for integration of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union of India and that is against any special status or autonomy for the Union Territory, in contrast to the NC’s pre-1953 position, the PDP’s ‘self-rule’ and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference’s ‘Achievable Nationhood’.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
472 09-03-2020 - Arunachal bans entry of foreign tourists –After Sikkim, the Arunachal Pradesh government has decided to ban entry of foreign tourists in order to eliminate any possibility of the COVID-19 outbreak in the State. The decision follows the Bhutan government’s alert about a 76-year-old U.S. citizen who tested positive for COVID-19. The man spent a week holidaying in Assam before leaving for Bhutan.State government has stopped issuing Protected Area Permits (PAPs) to foreigners temporarily.Arunachal Pradesh is one of the four northeastern States that a foreign tourist can visit only if he or she possesses a PAP. The other three states are Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
473 09-03-2020 - J&K delimitation likely to give more political heft to Jammu –The Centre has decided to complete the delimitation exercise in Jammu & Kashmir within a year which is likely to increase the number of seats in the Jammu region, adding to its clout in the Union Territory’s legislature. The Centre had notified constitution of the delimitation commission headed by former SC judge Justice Ranjana Desai to redraw the assembly and parliamentary constituencies of J&K as per the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019. After abrogation of Article 370, the state was carved into two separate UTs of J&K and Ladakh, the former with a legislature.According to the J&K Reorganisation Act, seven seats are to be added to the present 85 in J&K. Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) with 24 allotted seats will remain untouched.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
474 09-03-2020 - Anti-CAA protest: Couple with ‘IS link’ held in Delhi –Delhi Police’s special cell arrested a couple with alleged links to the Khorasan module of Islamic State from. The couple — Jahanjeb Sami (36) and Hina Bashir Beg (39) — is accused of instigating anti-Citizenship Ammendment Act protests and motivating youths to carry out terror strike in retaliation. Sami was given the name of Abu Muhammed Al Hind by IS leadership and was using aliases like Dawood Ibrahim, Xaib and Abu Abdullah. He belonged to Shivpora locality in Srinagar and was living with his wife in Okhla Vihar area.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
475 09-03-2020 - Corona, split in Opec+ may bring crude relief –Oil could once again prove to be PM Modi’s friend at a time his government is grappling with economic slowdown. The end of the three-year marriage between Saudi Arabia-led OPEC and Russia, coming amid faltering global demand due to economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, could hammer oil prices below the $40/barrel mark. For India, which imports 83% of its oil, an extended spell of low prices will bring down fuel prices faster and leave money in the government’s kitty for incentives to revive growth without pulling back on social spending.

(Indian Economy, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
476 09-03-2020 - Travel chaos as Italy puts quarter of population under coronavirus quarantine– Panicked travelers rushed to flee northern Italy before more than a quarter of its population was placed under lock down to combat coronavirus outbreak. Chaos ensued as people tried to escape before the quarantine decree signed by Italian Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte went into effect in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, which are home to more than 16 million people. Former Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini shared a video from the Garibaldi station of crowds of people rushing to catch the final trains out of the region, according to Metro UK.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
477 09-03-2020 - Kamala Harris endorses one-time rival Joe Biden's White House bid–U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, on Sunday said she would endorse her one-time rival Joe Biden’s bid for the White House.Biden has been eager to capitalize on a string of wins in South Carolina and a set of states that voted, where was helped by the endorsements of one-time rivals Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. In in St. Louis, Biden thanked them and supporters of Harris, fueling speculation that the former Democratic presidential candidate may be about to endorse him.
(People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
478 09-03-2020 - Australia won T20 Cricket World Cup– India saved their worst for the last as a brutal Australian side outclassed them by 85 runs for an unprecedented fifth T20 World Cup triumph in a final that promised much but delivered very little. Batting first after the coin landed in Meg Lanning’s favour, Australia came out in scintillating fashion with their openers Alyssa Healy (75 off 39 balls) and Beth Mooney (78 off 54 balls) laying the foundation with a 115-run partnership in double quick time. Stirred up by the grand occasion, their onslaught fired Australia to a formidable total of 184 for four in the stipulated 20 overs. Overwhelmed by the occasion, India crumbled to 99 all out in front of a turnout of 86,174 at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, a record in women’s cricket history.
(Entertainment Games and Sports, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
479 07-03-2020 - Supreme Court upholds 2018 order on land acquisition –A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that land acquisition proceedings under the 1894 Act will not be deemed to have lapsed under Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, if the authorities have tendered the compensation by deposit in the Treasury. A five-judge Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, held that landowners, who had refused to accept compensation or who sought reference for higher compensation, cannot claim that the acquisition proceedings had lapsed under Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act.With this, the Constitution Bench has affirmed the February 2018 ruling on Section 24 by a three-judge Bench, led by Justice Mishra himself, in the Indore Development Authority case.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
480 07-03-2020 - Centre cannot brand organisations ‘political’: SC–The Central government cannot brand an organisation ‘political’ and deprive it of its right to receive foreign funds for using “legitimate forms of dissent” like bandh, hartal, road roko or jail ‘bharo’ to aid a public cause, the Supreme Court held.But the foreign funding pipeline could be cut if an organisation took recourse to these forms of protest to score a political goal, the court said.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Economy, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
481 07-03-2020 - Avoid mass gatherings, says govt as corona cases hit 31 –The Centre advised all states to avoid or postpone mass gatherings till Covid-19 is contained as various regulators and institutions went into prevention mode to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus infection that has so far affected 31 people across India. The advisories came on a day the total number of Covid-19 cases crossed 1 lakh globally. The number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus worldwide stood at 3,411. India hasn’t reported any deaths yet. As of March 5, 29,607 people across India were under observation through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network for the novel coronavirus..

(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
482 07-03-2020 - SBI set to acquire 49% in Yes Bank even as ED raids promoter Kapoor –A day after the Reserve Bank of India superseded the Rana Kapoor-promoted Yes Bank board and capped cash withdrawals at Rs 50,000 (Rs 5 lakh in exceptional situations) and the State Bank of India said it was “exploring an investment opportunity” in Yes, the RBI came out with a “draft reconstruction scheme” under which SBI will bring in Rs 2,500 crore for a 49% stake in the crisis-ridden private sector bank. The scheme proposes full repayment of all deposits, dilution of equity, and write-off of Rs 10,800 crore of additional tier one (AT-1) bonds. In a bid to reassure depositors and markets, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said although a moratorium of 30 days had been imposed, the resolution would be much quicker. RBI has invited comments and suggestions on the scheme up to March 9, after which it will take a final view.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
483 07-03-2020 - LS passes 2 bills amid open protests over Delhi violence –While opposition MPs continued with protests and sported black bands in Lok Sabha, the House conducted business for a brief period and passed two bills — the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill — between spells of adjournments.

(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
484 07-03-2020 - Two minors convicted in Pehlu Khan lynching case –The Juvenile Justice Board in Alwar convicted two minors accused of participating in the lynching of Pehlu Khan in 2017. The quantum of punishment is likely to be pronounced on March 7. The board had asked the two accused if they had anything to say in their defence in case they were found guilty, following which they were convicted. Pehlu Khan (55), a dairy farmer from Nuh district of Haryana, his two sons and some others were attacked by cow vigilantes near Behror on April 1, 2017.
(Constitution and Law, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
485 07-03-2020 - Global Coronavirus Infections Surpass 1,00,000–The number of people infected with coronavirus across the world surpassed 1,00,000 as the outbreak reached more countries and the economic damage intensified, with business districts beginning to empty and stock markets tumbling.An increasing number of people faced a new reality as many were asked to stay home from work, schools were closed, large gatherings and events were cancelled, stores cleared of staples like toiletries and water, and face masks became a common sight.The outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people and spread across more than 90 nations.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
486 07-03-2020 - 27 killed in blast at top leader's rally in Afghanistan – It wasthe deadliest assault in Afghanistan since the US signed a withdrawal deal with the Taliban. The attack highlights the glaring lack of security in the heavily fortified Afghan capital just 14 months ahead of the scheduled withdrawal of all foreign forces under an agreement signed on February 29 by the US and the Taliban. Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said women and children were among the dead with an additional 29 wounded.

(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
487 07-03-2020 - South Korea threatens retaliation over 'irrational' Japan virus quarantine –Seoul threatened to retaliate over what it called Tokyo's "irrational" plan to quarantine arrivals from South Korea over the coronavirus outbreak, turning the scientific issue into a diplomatic row. The two countries have close economic ties and are both major US allies, democracies and market economies faced with a rising China and nuclear-armed North Korea.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
488 07-03-2020 - Sensex tanks 894 points, Nifty 279 points – Domestic markets plunged due to a double-whammy from Covid-19 and YES Bank crisis. While the BSE Sensex plunged 894 points, the broader Nifty-50 crashed below the key 11,000-mark as regulatory curbs on YES Bank triggered a margin pressure among domestic investors while foreign portfolio investors continue their selling-spree fearing coronavirus spread. The BSE Sensex tanked 894 points to settle the day at 37,577. During the day, the index hit a low of 37,011 levels. The broader NSE Nifty shed 279.55 points to close at 10,989.45.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
489 06-03-2020 - 30 corona cases confirmed, 23 more positive in 1st test A 57-year-old Ghaziabad resident with a recent travel history to Iran has become the 30th person to be confirmed positive for Covid-19 in India. The number of cases is likely to rise sharply as health authorities await results of reconfirmation tests on 23 more whose initial tests have shown the presence of the virus. The Ghaziabad man has been quarantined at Delhi’s Ram ManoharLohia hospital. His wife and son have been put in an isolation ward in a Ghaziabad hospital. PM’s visit to Brussels has been rescheduled.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
490 06-03-2020 - SC to step in if Nirbhaya convicts are not hanged on March 20 –The Supreme Court made it clear that any delay in the execution of the death sentence of the four Nirbhaya gang-rape case convicts on March 20 will see the court itself step in on March 23 to decide the government’s appeal for permission to separately hang them. The assurance from a three-judge Bench, led by Justice R. Banumathi, came while it was addressing the government’s apprehension that chances were high that one or other of the convicts might turn up in court before March 20 with a new plea and further delay the execution.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
491 06-03-2020 - EPFO lowers interest rate to 8.5% for 2019-2020–Salaried employees are set to get 0.15% less in interest on Provident Fund deposits for 2019-2020, with the Central Board of Trustees of the Employees’ Provident Fund reducing the interest rate from 8.65% to 8.5%.The Board also ratified the restoration of normal pension after 15 years from the date of commutation — a move that will benefit about 6.3 lakh pensioners who had opted for commutation on or before September 25, 2008. It also approved a proposal to empanel the Jammu and Kashmir Bank as one of the banks for the collection of EPF dues in J&K.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
492 06-03-2020 - Suspended AAP councillor denied bail, arrested in Delhi –Suspended AamAadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain was arrested by the Delhi police in connection with the murder of Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma in northeast Delhi during the recent riots. Hussain, who was absconding, had applied for anticipatory bail at the Karkardooma court, and a decision on his plea was to be announced by the magistrate. In between, he reached the Rouse Avenue court to surrender and moved an application, saying he was facing threats.
(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
493 06-03-2020 - RBI supersedes Yes Bank board, limits withdrawals to Rs. 50,000–The Reserve Bank of India superseded the board of directors of Rana Kapoor-promoted Yes Bank and limited cash withdrawal to Rs 50,000 but depositors can withdraw up to Rs 5 lakh for medical treatment, higher education, expenses on marriage and other ceremonies, and “unavoidable emergencies”. The cap applies across even multiple accounts of a depositor. RBI has appointed deputy managing director and chief finance officer of State Bank of India, Prashant Kumar, as an administrator of the bank. Although the central bank has said that the moratorium will last for 30 days, a plan involving SBI is in the works.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
494 06-03-2020 - NPR data useful for welfare schemes, says Home Ministry–The Union Home Ministry has informed a parliamentary panel that it proposes to collect details on additional questions such as “date and place of birth of parents” in the National Population Register (NPR) to “facilitate back-end data processing and making the data items of date and place of birth complete for all household[s]”.Though the final NPR form for 2020 has not been made public, it is proposed to collect data on some additional items like place of last residence, mother tongue, Aadhaar number (voluntary), mobile number, passport (Indian passport holder), voter ID card, driving licence number, date and place of birth of father and mother.
(Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
495 06-03-2020 - Seven Congress members suspended for remaining period of Budget session –LokSabha passed a motion suspending seven Congress members for the remaining period of the Budget session for their "gross misconduct" after they snatched papers from the Speaker's table and "utter disregard" for House rules. As soon as the House met at 3 pm following an adjournment, MeenakshiLekhi, who was presiding the House, named Gaurav Gogoi, T N Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Manicka Tagore, RajmohanUnnithan, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla. Once a member is named by the Chair, he or she cannot attend the House for that day. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi then moved a motion to suspend these members from the House for the remaining period of the Budget session. The motion was passed by a voice vote amid protests by opposition members.
(Indian Economy, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
496 06-03-2020 - Russia and Turkey Announce Cease-Fire Agreement in Northwestern Syria – The presidents of Russia and Turkey said they reached agreements on a cease-fire in northwestern Syria, where escalating fighting had threatened to put forces from the two countries into a direct military conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said the deal also envisions setting up a security corridor along a strategic highway in Idlib province.
(Defence and Military, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
497 06-03-2020 - COVID 19 outbreak – 300 mn children missing class across globe–The coronavirus epidemic reached deeper into daily life across the world, with a sweeping shutdown of all schools in Italy and warnings of school closings in the United States, intensifying the educational upheaval of nearly 300 million students globally. Only a few weeks ago, China, where the outbreak began, was the only country to suspend classes. But the virus has spread so quickly that now, 22 countries on three continents had announced school closings of varying degrees, leading the United Nations to warn that ‘the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled.’

(Governance and Institutions, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous, World Politics)
498 06-03-2020 - Banks announce share swap ratios – With the March-end deadline for the biggest-ever amalgamation scheme approaching, eight state-owned banks announced swap ratios for the proposed mergers. Punjab National Bank (PNB), in a regulatory filing, announced the share exchange ratio in accordance with the scheme of amalgamation, as it is set to merge Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) and United Bank of India (UBI) into itself with effect from April 1. PNB’s board had approved for amalgamation of OBC and UBI, Punjab National Bank said in a BSE filing. According to the swap ratio, 1,150 equity shares of PNB are to be exchanged for every 1,000 equity shares of Oriental Bank of Commerce, while 121 equity shares of PNB are to be swapped for every 1,000 equity shares of UBI.
(Indian Economy, People and Personalities, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
499 05-03-2020 - COVID-19 cases rise to 29 in India –Fifteen Italian tourists, including the wife of an already infected person, and eight Indians tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of cases in the country to 29. Two cases with a high viral load were also detected in Telangana. A Paytm employee tested positive in Gurugram. The company said in a statement that the person had a travel history to Italy. The Health Ministry also confirmed the case.
(People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
500 05-03-2020 - SC asks HC to list Delhi riots cases on March 6–The Supreme Court said it was ‘unjustified’ on the part of the Delhi High Court to delay hearing the pleas for arrest and prosecution of leaders who instigated the communal rampage in the national capital and directed the High Court to list the petitions on March 6. Less than a week ago, the HC adjourned to April 13 the hearing of petitions seeking immediate registration of FIRs against those who egged mobs on with their hate speeches. It had seemed to agree with the government that the ‘atmosphere was not conducive’ for action.

(Constitution and Law, Indian Politics, People and Personalities, Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)





     

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