Current Affairs Headlines

S. No.Headlines
1 14-08-2020 - World – China launches 'Clean Plate' campaign against food waste – China has stepped up measures to reduce food waste, after President Xi Jinping called the amount wasted "shocking and distressing". The "Clean Plate Campaign" comes after Mr Xi highlighted that Covid-19 had "sounded the alarm" on food waste. He added that China had to "maintain a sense of crisis about food security". It also comes after weeks of mass flooding across southern China which left farms wrecked and ruined tons of produce. Following Mr Xi's message, the Wuhan Catering Industry Association urged restaurants in the city to limit the number of dishes served to diners - implementing a system where groups must order one dish less than the number of diners. So under this system dubbed "N-1", a group of 10 people can only order 9 dishes.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
2 14-08-2020 - Defence – Coast Guard''s offshore patrol vessel ''Sarthak'' launched – An offshore patrol vessel (OPV) for the Indian Coast Guard was launched and rechristened as "Sarthak" on Thursday (August 13). The OPV is fitted with the state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment, sensor and machinery. The 105 metre ship displaces approximately 2,350 tonnes 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)
3 14-08-2020 - COVID-19 – New Zealand races to track down the source of the Auckland coronavirus outbreak – After more than 100 days without community transmission, New Zealand is now grappling with a fresh coronavirus outbreak in its largest city, Auckland. The resurgence of the virus has bamboozled health officials and sent politicians into a spin about the possible source. It all comes after New Zealanders had been quietly confident they had eliminated COVID-19 outside of the quarantine centres set up to take in Kiwis returning from overseas. But earlier this week, an Auckland family of four tested positive, sending shudders through the whole city and sending businesses back into lockdown.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
4 14-08-2020 - COVID-19 – Biggest nat’l daily rise: 66k+ cases, 1,008 deaths – An unprecedented surge in the Covid-19 pandemic in India on Thursday (August 13) saw the number of fresh cases and deaths touch record highs. New infections on the day shot up to 66,037, while fatalities soared to 1,008. India’s total caseload has crossed 24 lakh. This was the second time that deaths had crossed 1,000 in a day. Thursday’s toll was just 1 higher than 1,007 deaths on August 9.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
5 14-08-2020 - Economy – India gifts Maldives its biggest infra project – India has announced several developmental projects in the Maldives, including a $500 million Greater Malé Connectivity Project (GMCP), billed as the largest ever infrastructure project in the country. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also announced the creation of an air bubble to facilitate movement for employment, tourism, medical emergencies. India said in a statement that it will support implementation of GMCP through a grant of $100 million and a new Line of Credit of $400 million. Jaishankar noted that this project will connect Malé with three neighbouring islands - Villingili, Gulhifahu (where a port is being built under Indian LoC) and Thilafushi (new industrial zone) – by construction of a bridge-and-causeway link spanning 6.7 km. India also announced the commencement of a direct cargo ferry service and extension of urgent financial assistance.
(Indian Economy, Infrastructure)
6 14-08-2020 - Economy – Inflation accelerates to 6.93% dimming chances of a rate cut – India’s retail inflation accelerated to 6.93% in July on higher food prices, remaining above the RBI’s medium-term target for a tenth straight month. Food prices soared due to supply-side disruptions caused by lockdowns. They rose 9.62% compared to a jump of 8.72% in June. A steady increase in COVID-19 cases has disrupted the supply chain as lockdowns have continued at regional levels. Fearing a sharp acceleration in inflation the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last week kept interest rates on hold, after reducing the repo rate by a total of 115 basis points since February. The RBI’s medium-term inflation target is set at 4%. India’s economy is expected to contract more than 4.5% in the current fiscal, but some analysts do not expect the central bank to cut rates further this year.
(Indian Economy)
7 14-08-2020 - Economy – US eases ban on foreigners returning to same job role – The US Department of State has permitted foreign nationals to seek an H-1B or an L-1 visa and return to the US to resume their previously held employment. In addition, individuals — including those in information technology (IT) — may also qualify for entry to the US under ‘national interest exception’ norms, subject to meeting certain conditions. Immigration experts believe that the slew of lawsuits against the entry ban on a wide range of visa holders, which had the backing of such US tech giants as Apple and Microsoft, forced the Trump administration to backtrack and introduce relaxations. These relaxations are a huge relief to hundreds of US job holders who were visiting India for dealing with family emergencies and functions and, owing to the travel ban announced by President Donald Trump on June 22, found that they could not obtain a visa stamp and travel back to the US. 
( Economy)
8 14-08-2020 - World – Lebanon Parliament declares a state of emergency in Beirut – Lebanon’s Parliament has approved a state of emergency in the capital, Beirut, in its first session since the tragic explosion last week, granting the military sweeping powers amid rising popular anger and political uncertainty. The blast that killed more than 170 people and injured at least 6,000 others changed the face of the capital and forced the government to resign. Before resigning, the government declared a state of emergency in Beirut that granted the military sweeping powers, including the power to declare curfews, prevent public gatherings and censor media as well as refer civilians to military tribunals for alleged security breaches.
(Governance and Institutions)
9 14-08-2020 - World – UAE, Israel reach agreement to establish diplomatic ties – President Donald Trump has said that the United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to establish full diplomatic ties as part of a deal to halt the annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state. The announcement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to do so and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic ties to Israel. For Israel, the announcement comes after years of boasting by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government enjoys closer ties to Arab nations than publicly acknowledged. For the UAE, it further burnishes its international campaign to be seen as a beacon of tolerance in West Asia despite being governed by autocratic rulers.
(Treaties and Protocols)
10 14-08-2020 - Economy – PM announces taxpayers’ charter – PM Modi has launched a “Transparent Taxation — Honouring the Honest” platform that provides faceless assessment, faceless appeal and a taxpayers’ charter. He appealed to those not paying taxes, despite having the ability, to come forward and commit themselves to the cause of making the country self-reliant. While the faceless assessment and taxpayers’ charter came into force on Thursday itself, the faceless appeal system will be available from September 25, the birth anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyaya. The assessment system seeks to eliminate corrupt practices by doing away with the territorial jurisdiction of income-tax offices.
(Indian Economy)
11 13-08-2020 - Society – 3 killed as police open fire to quell mob in Bengaluru – Three people were killed and three more injured after the police opened fire to quell a mob that went on a rampage in DJ Halli and adjoining areas in east Bengaluru on Tuesday (August 11) night over an inflammatory Facebook post against Islam. As many as 2,000 people were on the streets vandalising and setting property afire. The rioting was brought under control in the early hours of Wednesday. Prohibitory orders have been put in force and the situation is tense but under control. A total of 146 people, including a few local leaders of the Social Democratic Party of India, have been arrested. At least 38 policemen were injured and several vehicles and properties, including a police station, torched. Two media personnel were also injured.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
12 13-08-2020 - Economy – UK falls into recession as GDP tumbles 20.4% in April-June - as it happened – The U.K. economy suffered more than any major European nation during the coronavirus lockdowns, piling pressure on the government to ensure the withdrawal of its support programs doesn’t derail the nascent recovery. Gross domestic product plunged 20.4% in the second quarter, the most since records began in 1955 and roughly double that of Germany and the U.S. It also pushed Britain into its first recession since 2009. The report followed massive job losses since the start of the pandemic, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak acknowledged that more pain is to come.
(Indian Economy)
13 13-08-2020 - Research/Study – Forest loss threatens hornbills – A study based on satellite data has flagged a high rate of deforestation in a major hornbill habitat in Arunachal Pradesh. Using fine-scale satellite imagery, a trio of ecologists assessed the changes in forest cover of the 1,064 sq.km. Papum Reserve Forest (RF) adjoining the Pakke Tiger Reserve as well as a part of Assam affected by illegal felling and ethnic conflict. Papum RF is a nesting habitat of three species of the large, colourful fruit-eating hornbills: Great, Wreathed and Oriental Pied. The 862 sq.km. Pakke reserve houses a fourth species, the Rufous-Necked.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
14 13-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Indians having any valid visa can now fly to the UAE – With the Union government lifting the pandemic-induced curbs on tourist and visit visas for travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after five months, airlines can now carry any Indian national holding any type of valid UAE visa to the seven emirates. Till now, only Indian and UAE nationals having resident visa, fresh job visa or student visa were allowed to travel on flights operated by Air India Group and Air India Express and on chartered flights to the UAE.
(Governance and Institutions)
15 13-08-2020 - Economy – PM set to unveil scheme to reward honest taxpayers – Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to unveil the much-awaited scheme to reward honest taxpayers on August 13. While the government has for long talked about various plans — ranging from cashback or rewards under GST for those using digital modes of payment to make purchases — it has so far failed to implement them. In fact, several other steps were contemplated on the GST side, but none have seen the light of the day so far. Similarly, there have been recommendations from the CBDT to recognise taxpayers at district and state level, besides helping them access government services quickly. Again, the revenue department has failed to implement them for months. There have also been suggestions to offer additional benefits for those who pay their taxes honestly.
(Indian Economy)
16 13-08-2020 - Research/Study – Depression hit 50% youths, 17% lost jobs: ILO survey – Nearly one in two young people are possibly subject to anxiety or depression, while 17% are probably affected by it due to the impact of Covid-19. Since the outset of the pandemic more than 70% of youth who study or combine study with work have been adversely affected by the closing of schools, universities and training centres. The Covid-19 crisis is having a devastating effect on the education and training of young people, it said. According to the report, ‘Youth and COVID-19: impacts on jobs, education, rights and mental well-being’, 65% of young people reported having learned less since the beginning of the pandemic because of the transition from classroom to online and distance learning during lockdown.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
17 13-08-2020 - Economy – 23 players keen to operate pvt trains – The trains to be operated by private players may have swanky features like that of Metro trains or Vande Bharat express, including electronic sliding doors, passenger surveillance system, public address announcement system, display of information and destination boards. At least 23 players including PSU majors like IRCTC and BHEL, and a host of private players such as GMR, CAF India, Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens and Medha are keen to operate trains. The railway ministry has come out with the draft specification for the trains that would be operated on 506 routes in a phased manner from March 2023. These trains won’t start unless all doors are closed and electrically locked. It specifies that the design speed of these trains would be 180 kmph and should be capable of accelerating to 160 kmph from 0 kmph in 140 seconds.
(Indian Economy)
18 13-08-2020 - Internal Security – ‘Atmanirbhar’ India tests own combat helicopters in Ladakh – India has deployed two of its new indigenous light combat helicopters, in addition to the heavy-duty Apache attack and Chinook heavy-lift choppers acquired from the US, in Ladakh amid the ongoing military confrontation with China there. The deployment of the twin-engine LCHs, which are not fully weaponised yet, in the high-altitude region is a show of support for the indigenous choppers ahead of their proposed induction into the armed forces. The initial order for 15 LCHs is likely to be placed on defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics before the end of this year, with the overall requirement of such 5.5-tonne class choppers by the IAF and Army pegged at 160 as of now.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
19 13-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Kamala Harris to be Biden’s running mate – U.S. Senator from California Kamala Harris has been named running mate of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Ms. Harris, 55, is the first woman of Indian descent and black woman to be on the presidential ticket of a major political party in the U.S. The move puts Ms. Harris in a powerful position to lead the Democratic Party in the near future and with a shot at the presidency in four to eight years. Born to Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher originally from Chennai, and Donald Harris, an economics professor from Jamaica, Ms. Harris has decades of public service to her name. In 2010, she became California’s Attorney General — the first black woman to hold the position. In 2016, she was elected to the U.S. Senate.
(World Politics)
20 13-08-2020 - COVID-19 – With 47k+ Covid deaths, India overtakes UK to be world No. 4 – India overtook the UK on Wednesday (August 12) to emerge as the No. 4 country in Covid fatalities, with its second-highest single-day toll of 934 taking the total deaths to 47,065. India is now behind the US, Brazil and Mexico—13 days after it overtook Italy to emerge as the fifth worst affected country in terms of coronavirus deaths. The UK’s toll stood at 46,706. However, India’s case fatality rate (CFR) of 2 is much lower than that of the other countries, particularly the UK, which has the highest CFR of 14.9. India’s deaths per million stand at 34, which is much lower than the figures of other countries, which are in the range of 400 to 700. At 688, the UK has the highest deaths per million, followed by the US where the figure stands at 508.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
21 12-08-2020 - International Relations – First thaw in freeze: India and Nepal will meet next week – For the first time since the deterioration of ties over the Kalapani boundary dispute, India and Nepal are likely to meet next week to review projects funded by the Indian government. India is building roads in the Terai region, helping Nepal in its post-earthquake reconstruction work, building railway lines, a police training academy, a polytechnic college, an oil pipeline and border check posts. The government has allocated Rs 800 crore in this year’s budget for projects in Nepal.
(Regional Politics)
22 12-08-2020 - World – Angry Lebanese now call for removal of president – Angry and grieving demonstrators on Tuesday (August 11) read aloud the names of at least 171 people killed in last week’s explosion at Beirut port and called for the removal of Lebanon’s president and other officials they blame for the tragedy. Gathered near “ground zero”, some carried pictures of the victims as a large screen replayed footage of the mushroom cloud that rose over the city last Tuesday after highly-explosive material stored for years detonated, injuring some 6,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Lebanese security officials had warned the PM and president on July 20 that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut’s port posed a security risk and could destroy the capital if it exploded.
(World Politics)
23 12-08-2020 - COVID-19 – Trump may ban re-entry of citizens likely to have virus – The Trump administration is considering new immigration proposals that would enable border officials to temporarily block American citizens and legal permanent residents (Green Card holders) from returning to the country if they are suspected of being Covid positive and coming from a coronavirus hotspot outside the US. The US has banned foreigners from entering the country from coronavirus hotspots, but American citizens and legal permanent residents have so far been excepted. The proposal to selectively shutter down the US came even as virus rages across much of America and there is a furious ongoing debate on the reopening of schools.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
24 12-08-2020 - Education – B.Arch. students to get 3-year exit option under new norms – Undergraduate architecture students could soon have the option to exit the 5-year degree programme after three years with a basic degree, according to the Council of Architecture’s (CoA) new norms released on Tuesday (August 11). The Council is also considering the possibility of a professional qualifying exam for architecture to license practitioners. The Minimum Standards of Architectural Education Regulations (MSAR), 2020, released through a webinar by Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, are being revised after 37 years.
(Education)
25 12-08-2020 - People & Personalities – A fearless voice and people’s poet – Eminent Urdu poet Rahat Indori who succumbed to COVID-related complications on Tuesday (August 11) was an unwavering light who kept the ‘mushaira’ poetry alive for generations, a fearless voice who unfailingly showed a mirror to the establishment. A people’s poet, he was not meant to be read in literary journals; he was made to be experienced in poetic ‘soirees’ where his unique style of delivery kept the audience hooked for hours.
(People and Personalities)
26 12-08-2020 - World – China extends Hong Kong council’s term – Chinese lawmakers have extended the term of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council by at least a year in order to deal with the vacuum left by postponing the city’s elections. Hong Kong’s leader said in late July that local elections planned for September would be postponed because coronavirus cases had surged in the international finance hub, a move which infuriated democracy supporters and drew concern from Western governments. Election officials had earlier disqualified four pro-democracy legislators, saying their calls for foreign governments to impose sanctions on Beijing and Hong Kong violated the new national security law, which is criticised for eroding the city’s political freedoms.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
27 12-08-2020 - Economy – Industrial output shrinks in June for 4th month in a row – The country’s industrial output contracted for the fourth successive month in June, led by a decline in manufacturing, mining, electricity and capital goods segments as the coronavirus-induced lockdown continued to take a heavy toll on the crucial sector. The index of industrial production (IIP) contracted 16.6% in June, compared with a fall of 33.9% in the previous month and 1.3% expansion in the same month last year. For the April-June period, industrial output contracted 35.9% compared with an expansion of 3% in the year-ago period. The data showed that the pace of contraction has slowed in June compared to May, reflecting the impact of the restart of economic activity across the country as authorities eased lockdown measures.
(Indian Economy)
28 12-08-2020 - Defence – Plans to arm Israeli drones and make AKs in India fast-tracked – The government has approved measures to speed up long-pending projects to arm its Israeli drones with deadly weapons and indigenously manufacture Russian Kalashnikov assault rifles, while clearing procurements of Rs 8,722 crore of basic trainer aircraft, naval guns and specialised anti-tank ammunition. The decision by the Rajnath Singh-led defence acquisitions council (DAC) to fasttrack the decade-old proposal to arm the Israeli Heron drones is significant since it comes amid the military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh. Sources said ‘Project Cheetah’ to upgrade the Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with laser-guided bombs, air-to-ground anti-tank missiles and other precision-guided munitions as well as advanced reconnaissance capabilities will cost over Rs 3,500 crore.
(Defence and Military)
29 12-08-2020 - COVID-19 – Russia Approves 1st Covid Vaccine – President Putin has said that Russia had become the first country to grant regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move Moscow likened to its success in the Cold War-era space race. The vaccine, which will be called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, has however not yet completed its final trials. Moscow’s decision to grant approval before then has raised concerns among some experts. Only about 10% of clinical trials are successful and some scientists fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety. Putin and other officials have said it is completely safe. The president said one of his daughters had taken it as a volunteer and felt good afterwards.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
30 12-08-2020 - Society – SC gives equal inheritance right to daughters from 1956 – Putting the last nail on male primacy in division of Hindu ancestral property, the Supreme Court has cleared the legal cobwebs to declare daughters will have inheritance rights equal to those of sons from properties of fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers right from the codification of the law in 1956. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah ironed out the confusion arising from the apex court’s conflicting interpretations of the amended Section 6 of Hindu Succession Act, which came into force on September 9, 2005. The bench said irrespective of whether the father was alive or not, daughters born before September 9, 2005, too could claim equal right in inheritance. However, daughters, while claiming coparcenary rights, won’t be able to question disposal or alienation of ancestral properties by the existing coparceners prior to December 20, 2004, as provided in the amended Section 6.
(Constitution and Law)
31 11-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Pilot cancels flight from Cong after meeting Rahul, Priyanka – A month after he revolted against CM Ashok Gehlot and left Jaipur with 18 supporting MLAs, Sachin Pilot met Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and rolled back his rebellion on the assurance that his grievances would be “redressed”. Though the terms of the peace deal remain to be worked out in detail, he may be offered an AICC post such as general secretary. The development marks a win for Gehlot who has all along claimed he has the numbers for a floor test and has been reluctant to accommodate Pilot. The meeting with Rahul and Priyanka was followed by a party statement, which said Pilot had expressed his grievances in detail.
(Indian Politics)
32 11-08-2020 - Economy – Equity MFs see 1st outflow in over 4 years – Equity mutual funds witnessed an outflow of ₹2,480 crore in July, making it the first withdrawal in more than four years, primarily on profit-booking by investors. Overall, the mutual fund industry witnessed a net inflow of ₹89,813 crore across all segments last month, much higher than the ₹7,265 crore seen in June. As per the data, outflow from equity and equity-linked open ended schemes was at ₹2,480.35 crore in July compared with an inflow of ₹240.55 crore in June. July 2020 saw the first outflow since March 2016, when equity schemes witnessed a pull-out of ₹1,370 crore.
(Indian Economy)
33 11-08-2020 - Economy – PM Modi inaugurates submarine optical fibre cable connecting Chennai, Port Blair – PM Modi has said the submarine optical fibre cable (OFC) connecting Andaman and Nicobar to the rest of the country and the world is a symbol of the government’s commitment to ease of living of the island’s people. The PM inaugurated the optical fibre cable project, which will connect Tamil Nadu’s Chennai and Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The submarine cable will also connect Port Blair to Swaraj Dweep (Havelock), Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Kamorta, Great Nicobar, Long Island and Rangat.
(Indian Economy)
34 11-08-2020 - Economy – India’s imports from China rise in June and July – India’s imports from China have risen to $5.6 billion in July, climbing for the second straight month, although imports are still down by 24% from 2019. India’s imports from China had fallen to a record low of $3.2 billion both in April and May, coinciding with India’s lockdown on account of the pandemic. Imports rose to $4.8 billion in June and further to $5.6 billion in July, almost back to the pre-lockdown level of $5.8 billion reported in March, in part, economists said, driven by Chinese exports of medical supplies. After seven months of this year, India’s imports from China reached $32.2 billion, down 24.7% year-on-year, largely because of the slump in April and May.
(Indian Economy)
35 11-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Lukashenko wins Belarus election marred by protests – The Opposition in Belarus rejected official election results handing President Alexander Lukashenko a landslide re-election victory on Monday (August 10), saying the poll was rigged and that talks needed to begin on a peaceful transfer of power. Earlier, the central election commission said Mr. Lukashenko, in power for more than a quarter of a century, won 80% of the vote in Sunday’s election, while Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, who emerged from obscurity to become his main rival, took just 9.9%. Foreign observers have not judged an election to be free and fair in Belarus since 1995, and the run-up to the vote saw authorities jail Mr. Lukashenko’s rivals and open criminal investigations into others who voiced opposition.
(World Politics)
36 11-08-2020 - COVID-19 – U.S. COVID-19 case count crosses five million – Face masks have become compulsory in tourist hotspots in Paris amid warnings of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, as infections in the U.S. topped five million. In Berlin, thousands of children have returned to school after the summer break, sporting masks which are compulsory in common areas like school courtyards. Schools in some other German regions also reopened, though with differing rules on masks. People in Paris aged 11 and over are now required to wear the masks in crowded areas and tourists hotspots. These include the banks of the Seine River and more than a 100 streets in the French capital. Several French towns and cities have already introduced similar measures, as well as parts of Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain. Globally, nearly 20 million cases have been officially registered. The death toll is at least 7,31,500 worldwide since virus emerged in China last December.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
37 11-08-2020 - World – Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested – Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has become the highest-profile person arrested under a new national security law, detained over suspected collusion with foreign forces as around 200 police searched the offices of his Apple Daily newspaper. Mr. Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing. His arrest comes amid Beijing’s crackdown against pro-democracy Opposition in the city and further stokes concerns about media and other freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to China in 1997. China imposed the sweeping new security law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
38 11-08-2020 - World – China slaps sanctions on U.S. Senators – China has sanctioned 11 Americans, including Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, in retaliation for similar U.S. moves prompted by Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong. Washington has accused 11 officials of suppressing “freedom and democratic processes” in Hong Kong, including city leader Carrie Lam, and announced plans to freeze their U.S. assets. It was the toughest U.S. action yet in response to Beijing’s introduction of a sweeping and controversial new national security law for the territory. Beijing said the measure was a violation of international law and “grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs”.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
39 11-08-2020 - COVID-19 – US study finds 97,000 kids were infected in last 2 weeks of July – As schools face the daunting challenge of reopening while the coronavirus continues to spread, at least 97,000 children around the US tested positive in the last two weeks of July — a 40% rise in such infections. A report says that at least 3,38,000 children had tested positive through July 30, meaning more than a quarter tested positive in just those two weeks. The report comes as some schools have tried to reopen, only to quickly order quarantines or close their doors. States in the South and West accounted for more than seven out of 10 infections in the new report, which relied on data from 49 states along with Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and Guam. The report noted that children rarely get severely sick from Covid-19.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
40 11-08-2020 - World – Lebanon govt quits in wake of blast – Lebanon’s prime minister has stepped down from his job in the wake of the catastrophic explosion in Beirut that has triggered public outrage, saying he has come to the conclusion that corruption in the country is “bigger than the state”. The move follows a weekend of anti-government protests after the August 4 explosion in Beirut’s port that decimated the facility and caused widespread destruction, killing at least 160 people and injured about 6,000 others. Diab blamed corrupt politicians who preceded him for the “earthquake” that has hit Lebanon. Although Diab’s resignation had appeared inevitable after the catastrophe, he seemed unwilling to leave and only two days ago made a speech in which he offered to stay on for two months to allow for various factions to agree on a road map for reforms. But the pressure from within his own cabinet proved to be too much.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
41 10-08-2020 - Economy – Andhra, Punjab, TN among states ready with land parcel data to woo investors – The government’s move to keep land parcels ready for investors to quickly decide on investment destinations is expected to begin in close to half-a-dozen states, while it is seeking to gradually move to a single-window clearance mechanism. States such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Odisha are among early movers and will come on board over the next few months. Already a massive exercise has been undertaken to map land across states, which could be part of special economic zones, industrial corridors or industrial areas, and make it available online for investors to quickly decide on the location of their proposed plant. Availability of land, in the wake of the land acquisition law, has been a major concern for industry and the government is seeking to address the concern by using available tracts.
(Indian Economy)
42 10-08-2020 - Education – Coaching classes not eligible to seek GST exemption: AAR – Coaching classes are not eligible to get any exemption from GST. This position was reiterated by a recent ruling given by the Andhra Pradesh bench of the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR). A similar stand has been taken earlier, including by the Maharashtra bench of the AAR. In other words, coaching classes have to levy and collect GST at 18% from students. Relevant notifications give exemption to educational services, if these are provided by an educational institution, subject to certain conditions. 
(Education)
43 10-08-2020 - Economy – Amid lockdown & job loss, MGNREGA demand soars – On August 6, MGNREGA clocked 106 days of active work in the 2020-21 financial year. On that day, Telangana generated 106% man-days compared to the work done in 365 days of 2019-20. Interestingly, during this period, neighbouring Andhra Pradesh touched 96% of the work done last year. It is expected to overhaul the previous year’s work performance this week. As many as six big states which qualify as traditional MGNREGA catchment areas are close to touching 70% work in comparison to last year while two have crossed 80%. Crucially, two other states have crossed 60% of the work.
(Indian Economy)
44 10-08-2020 - World – Loya jirga approves prisoner release – The Afghan government and the Taliban are “on the verge of peace talks” after thousands of prominent Afghans approved the release of about 400 contentious militant prisoners. The prisoners’ fate has been a crucial hurdle in launching peace talks between the two warring sides, which had committed to completing a prisoner exchange before negotiations can start. Among the 400 are Taliban members accused of major attacks, including a 2017 truck bombing near the German embassy in Kabul that killed more than 150. Talks will start in Doha this week.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
45 10-08-2020 - World – Trump signs order extending virus relief – U.S. President Donald Trump has signed executive actions extending financial relief to Americans hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as polls showed a large majority of voters unhappy with his handling of the crisis. The four measures marked a presidential show of strength after Mr. Trump’s Republican Party and White House team failed to agree with Opposition Democrats in Congress on a new stimulus package aimed at stopping vulnerable Americans from falling through the cracks. Many Americans had been relying on relief measures approved earlier by Congress, but which mostly expired in July. Mr. Trump’s measures are likely to face court challenges because Congress controls federal spending, and in any case they may add up to less money than initially appears.
(Healthcare and Medicine, World Politics)
46 10-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Sri Lankan PM – Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken the oath of office as PM of Sri Lanka, following the ruling party’s landslide victory in the August 5 general election. Mr. Rajapaksa, 74, polled a record-breaking share of preferential votes — over five lakh — this election, reflecting his popularity in the electorate 50 years after he first entered Parliament. The emphatic two-thirds majority to the ruling party in the recent poll, after Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s big win in November, allows the Rajapaksa brothers to amend the Constitution. As part of their poll campaign, the brothers vowed to repeal a 2015 legislation capping presidency at two-terms and trimming the President’s executive powers.
(Regional Politics)
47 10-08-2020 - COVID-19 – US surpasses 5m virus cases, Brazil death toll now 1,00,000 – While politicians wrangled over a pandemic relief package and schools struggled over whether to open their doors to students, the US passed another milestone on Saturday (August 8): more than five million known coronavirus infections — adding a million cases in just over two weeks. No other country has reported as many cases. Brazil ranks second, with more than three million. The US reported its millionth case on April 28, more than three months after the first reported case. The country passed two million cases on June 10, three million on July 7 and four million on July 23. At least 161,000 people have died since the pandemic began. Brazil too surpassed a grim milestone — 100,000 deaths from Covid-19. The nation people has been reporting an average of more than 1,000 daily deaths from the pandemic since May.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
48 10-08-2020 - Economy – PM launches ₹1L crore agri infra fund to aid farmers – Putting into motion decisions aimed at helping farmers get a better price for their produce at farm gates, PM Modi has launched a Rs 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund to support community farming assets across the country and said this would enhance India’s ability to compete globally in the agriculture sector. The farm infrastructure will enable farmers get higher value for their produce as they will be able to store and sell at better prices as per market conditions, reduce wastage and increase processing and value addition. Modi also released Rs 17,000 crore to nearly 8.5 crore farmers under the sixth instalment of the PM-Kisan scheme. The cash benefit was transferred directly into Aadhaar-verified bank accounts. With this transfer, the scheme has so far provided over Rs 90,000 crore to over 10 crore farmers since its launch in February last year.
(Agriculture, Indian Economy)
49 10-08-2020 - COVID-19 – Unwelcome record: 1,007 deaths on Sun, 4L new cases in a wk – India reported over 1,000 Covid-19 deaths for the first time on Sunday (August 9), even as the country reported record high numbers for the week, with fresh cases surging past the 4-lakh mark and fatalities crossing 6,000. Sunday’s toll was 1,007, while 63,851 fresh cases were reported, taking the total tally to 22,14,269, as per data collated from states. On the brighter side, recoveries crossed 15 lakh to 15,30,070, accounting for 69% of the caseload. Active cases rose to 6.4 lakh.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
50 10-08-2020 - Economy – Defence Ministry to impose import embargo on 101 items – The government has announced a negative arms imports list, under which acquisition of 101 weapon systems and platforms from abroad will be progressively banned from December 2020 to December 2025, in a bid to bolster the fledgling domestic defence production sector. The 101 items, with different embargo timelines, range from some types of ammunition, sonars, radars, artillery guns and assault rifles to missile destroyers, transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, wheeled armoured fighting vehicles, conventional diesel-electric submarines and communication satellites. Defence minister Rajnath Singh said it was “a big step towards self-reliance in defence production” in accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
51 08-08-2020 - Economy – With record $11.9 bn jump in July last week, forex reserves swell by $100 bn in 10 months – India’s foreign exchange reserves jumped by a record $11.9 billion in the week ended July 31 to hit a fresh high of $534.5 billion. In fact, over the last 10 months, the country’s forex reserves have swelled by $100 billion. Driven by a rise in FPI and FDI, the reserves have been supported by dip in import bill on account of ruling low crude oil prices, decline in gold and other imports on account of COVID-19. RBI data shows that in the week ended July 31, the foreign currency assets expanded by $10.3 billion to $490.8 billion. Even the gold reserves were up by $1.5 billion to $37.6 billion.
(Indian Economy)
52 08-08-2020 - COVID-19 – India’s recovery rate at 68% as nearly 14 lakh beat Covid – Covid-19 cases in India crossed the 20 lakh mark on Friday (August 7) after a record 62,538 cases were added in the last 24 hours, even as two-third of the total patients have also recovered. The total recoveries have jumped to 13,78,105 with 49,769 patients getting better in the last 24 hours. The recovery rate now stands at 68%. The average daily recovery (7-day moving average) has increased from around 26,000 cases to 44,000 cases in the last two weeks. In the last 24 hours, 886 people died. The total number of Covid-19 deaths in the country now stands at 41,585. The Covid fatality rate is now at around 2%.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
53 08-08-2020 - Environment & Ecology – Maharashtra is first state to name official mangrove tree – White chippi (Sonneratia alba) or sweet scented apple mangrove is now the official mangrove tree of Maharashtra. The state is the first to declare such a tree and the approval was granted at the 15th state wildlife board meeting on Friday (August 7). Maharashtra implemented a successful mangrove conservation programme on government land after the Bombay high court declared them as protected forests in 2015. Later, they were declared reserved forests. Maharashtra already has a state tree (mango), animal (large squirrel), fowl (inexperienced pigeon), state butterfly (blue mormon) and flower (jarul).
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
54 08-08-2020 - World – U.S. sanctions Hong Kong leader Lam – The U.S. has slapped sanctions on Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam and 10 other senior figures, in a major new step against China’s clampdown in the semi-autonomous city. In the most significant U.S. action since China imposed a tough security law, Ms. Lam and the other leaders of the Asian financial hub will have any assets in the U.S. blocked. The move also criminalises any U.S. financial transactions with them. US official said the U.S. was acting because Beijing had violated its promise of autonomy that it made to Hong Kong before Britain handed back the territory in 1997.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
55 08-08-2020 - World – U.S. to ban transactions with TikTok, WeChat – In what is the latest of a series of American measures against China, U.S. President Donald Trump signed executive orders (EOs) barring transactions with Chinese video sharing app TiKTok and messaging service WeChat. The bans, which will come into effect after 45 days, were ostensibly in response to concerns that the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) could retrieve private data on Americans from these apps and CPC censorship on the apps. One of the EOs bans any WeChat-related transaction with its owner Tencent Ltd. or its subsidiaries. The other bans any transactions with ByteDance, the owner of TikTok. Both orders allow a period of 45 days before kicking in. This allows time for U.S. tech giant Microsoft to explore an opportunity to buy TikTok from ByteDance.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
56 08-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Rajapaksas win super majority in Sri Lanka parliamentary poll – Sri Lanka’s ruling party secured a two-thirds majority in the recent parliamentary elections, giving the Rajapaksa brothers the power they sought to amend the Constitution. The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) obtained nearly 60% of the total votes polled, almost equalling the Rajapaksa-led front’s biggest mandate yet in 2010, when it peaked in popularity on the heels of ending the civil war. Coming less than a year after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ascent to power, the huge victory heralds the brothers’ likely power consolidation, as they helm the country’s two most powerful offices. However, the prospect of such a super majority has already sparked concern among sceptics and Opposition forces.
(Regional Politics)
57 08-08-2020 - Economy – Govt. launches Electric Vehicle Policy to boost economy, reduce pollution – The Delhi government has launched its ambitious Electric Vehicle Policy, which aims to boost the city’s economy, reduce pollution levels and generate employment in the transport sector. It also includes various incentives for the promotion of the purchase of electric vehicles in the city. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the policy would make Delhi “a world leader” in the field of electric vehicles and that it was one of the most progressive EV policies in the world. Mr. Kejriwal said that there were two objectives behind launching the EV Policy: as another step to kickstart the city’s economy and to combat pollution.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change, Indian Economy)
58 08-08-2020 - Disasters & Accidents – 15 killed as AI flight skids off Calicut airport runway – At least 15 persons, including the pilot and co-pilot, were killed and 153 injured when a Vande Bharat mission flight from Dubai overshot the runway at Calicut International Airport, broke into two parts and fell into a deep gorge around 8 p.m. on Friday (August 8). The Boeing aircraft, carrying 189 passengers and six crew, attempted to land amidst heavy tailwinds and rain on the table-top runway. It failed to hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions, and skidded for more than 75 m. The accident was similar to the fatal crash of another Air India Express aircraft that overshot the Mangalore International Airport 10 years ago. Following the accident, the airport was closed and flights diverted. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has ordered a detailed inquiry into the matter.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
59 08-08-2020 - Education – Indians spend ₹25k cr/yr on pvt tuitions for kids – Indian families spend close to Rs 25,000 crore a year on giving school kids private tuitions, an analysis of data from the education ministry and a recent National Statistical Office (NSO) report indicates. This does not include coaching for entrance exams and is just the money spent on bringing children from pre-primary to the higher secondary level up to speed on their school courses. To put that in context, the amount is more than one third of the central government’s total budget allocation of Rs 59,845 crore to the department of school education and literacy. Families of children in each of the primary, secondary and higher secondary levels spend over Rs 6,000 crore on private tuitions.
(Education)
60 08-08-2020 - COVID-19 – India’s Covid tally in Aug is highest in world so far – India is emerging as the biggest Covid-19 hotspot in the world in August. The country has so far recorded the most number of cases this month, slightly more than the US and substantially higher than the infections reported in Brazil. India has the world’s third highest death toll from the virus in the first six days of August. The coronavirus pandemic continued to surge on Friday (August 7), with fresh infections in the country crossing 60,000 for the second straight day and fatalities shooting up to 926, the highest single-day toll so far. India reported 3,28,903 new coronavirus cases in the first six days of August. The corresponding figure in the US was 3,26,111 and 2,51,264 in Brazil.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
61 07-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Ex-Union minister Manoj Sinha is surprise choice for J&K LG – BJP veteran and former central minister Manoj Sinha has been appointed lieutenant governor of Jammu & Kashmir in a surprise move after the abrupt exit of G C Murmu. He will be the first politician to be appointed LG of the newly formed Union territory. Sinha’s track record as incharge of the communications ministry and as MoS, railways, in Modi 1.0 indicates that he is seen as someone with experience in infrastructure development besides bringing a political touch to the office that might be needed whenever assembly polls are held in J&K. Sinha lost the 2019 LS election from Ghazipur to BSP’s Afzal Ansari.
(Governance and Institutions)
62 07-08-2020 - Economy – Credit discipline: current account norms tightened – In a move aimed at improving credit discipline, the RBI has instructed lenders not to open current accounts for customers who have availed credit facilities in the form of cash credit (CC)/ overdraft (OD) from a bank, and directed them to ensure that all transactions are routed through the CC/OD account. The new rules will be applicable to existing current, CC/OD accounts with various banks. Where a bank’s exposure to a borrower is less than 10% of the exposure of the banking system to that borrower, while credits are freely permitted, debits to the CC/OD account can only be for credit to the CC/OD account of that borrower with a bank that has 10% or more of the exposure of the banking system to that borrower.
(Indian Economy)
63 07-08-2020 - Economy – Jewel loan-to-value ratio raised to 90% from 75% – With a view to further mitigating the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on households, entrepreneurs and small businesses, the RBI has decided to increase the permissible loan-to-value ratio (LTV) for loans against pledge of gold ornaments and jewellery for non-agricultural purposes to 90%. Under the current guidelines, loans sanctioned by banks against pledge of gold ornaments and jewellery should not exceed 75% of the value of gold ornaments and jewellery, which has now increased to 90%.
(Indian Economy)
64 07-08-2020 - Economy – Inflation to stay elevated: RBI – India’s GDP will shrink in 2020-21, while inflation will continue to stay elevated in the coming months. However, the RBI refrained from projecting an estimate for the contraction, with an early containment of the COVID-19 pandemic being the only hope for a positive surprise. The RBI is hopeful of inflation easing during the second half of 2020-21. Headline inflation had gone up from 5.8% in March to 6.1% in June 2020, with price pressures evident across items, including food.
(Indian Economy)
65 07-08-2020 - World – FB, Twitter take aim at Trump ‘misinformation’ – Facebook and Twitter have taken aim at U.S. President Donald Trump and his campaign over a video post, in which he contended that children are “almost immune” to the COVID-19, a claim they said amounted to “misinformation.” In an extraordinary move, Facebook removed the clip from the President’s account — the first time it has taken down one of his posts for violating its content rules. Twitter, meanwhile, said it had blocked Mr. Trump’s official campaign account over a tweet containing the same video, in which the President made the case for reopening U.S. schools come September.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
66 07-08-2020 - Education – SC OKs Tripura’s plan to take back sacked teachers as peons – The SC has greenlighted the Tripura government’s proposal to absorb over 10,000 terminated postgraduate, graduate and undergraduate teachers as peons, night guards, gardeners, cooks and lower division clerks. The Tripura government had recruited 1,035 PGTs, 4,666 TGTs and 4,612 UGTs in 2010 and 2014 through oral interview under the Revised Employment Policy, 2003. The high court on May 7, 2014, set aside the 2003 policy and quashed the appointments. The SC on March 29, 2017, upheld the HC order, directed framing of a new policy and recruitment thereunder by December 31, 2017. However, it saw nothing wrong in the Tripura government's proposal seeking to give them alternative appointment in Group C and D category government jobs.
(Education)
67 07-08-2020 - COVID-19 – Covid hotspots shift to newer areas – Amid rising number of Covid-19 cases, the epicentres of the infection are shifting from major towns to neighbouring districts and newer states. In recent weeks, districts like Solapur, Thane, Nashik, Palghar, Surat, Jalgaon and Dakshin Kannada have seen the highest number — more than 1,000 each — of containment zones. On the other hand, instances of surges in daily cases per 10 lakh population are reported from states and UTs like Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry — ranging between 190 and 249 cases (per 10 lakh population). As on July 30, districts like Pune, Bengaluru, Thane, Mumbai, Chennai and East Godavari were leading the top 20 districts in terms of active caseloads.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
68 07-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Rajapaksa clan set for landslide win – Sri Lanka’s strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa was poised to stage a political comeback on Thursday (August 6) as his party took an unassailable lead and was set for a landslide victory in the general elections, according to results announced so far. An AFP report said that with more than 60% of the 11.3 million ballots counted, PM Mahinda Rajapaksa’s SLPP had 57% of the votes. Official results showed that the party had secured 72 out of the 98 seats decided and was headed for a two thirds majority in the 225-member parliament. The nearest rival to SLPP is the new party formed by former presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa who has relegated his mother party, the United National Party, of former premier Ranil Wickremesinghe to the fourth place. Wickremesinghe’s party is struggling to reach the 5% mark needed to qualify for any seat in the entire island. He is facing the danger of losing his parliamentary seat for the first time since July 1977.
(Regional Politics)
69 07-08-2020 - Economy – RBI keeps key policy rates unchanged – The RBI has kept its powder dry in the third review of the monetary policy since the COVID-19 pandemic spread in the country, leaving key policy rates unchanged in the face of rising inflation pressures but asserted that propping up economic recovery has assumed “primacy” in the “worst peace-time health and economic crisis of the last 100 years”. The central bank didn’t extend the moratorium on loan repayments offered to borrowers beyond August 31 but allowed banks to restructure loans from large corporates, micro, small and medium enterprises as well as individuals to help stem the rising stress on incomes and balance sheets.
(Indian Economy)
70 07-08-2020 - COVID-19 – India’s Covid count crosses 2m, record 62k+ cases on Thursday – Covid-19 cases recorded in India crossed 2 million on Thursday (August 6), with the last 1 million cases coming in just 21 days, even as fresh infections surged in the country to an all-time high of over 62,000 in a single day. India also reported 912 deaths on Thursday, the second-highest in a day so far. Just two other countries have recorded over 2 million coronavirus cases, the US and Brazil. While the number of deaths in India at the 2-million stage is far less than the other two, India has the fastest growth rate of Covid infection 3.1%). At the same stage, the US had a rate of 1.1% and Brazil 2%. It took 21 days for infections to rise to 2 million from the 1-million mark. The last 0.5 million cases have come at a faster pace; just nine days.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
71 06-08-2020 - Crime – Centre issues notification for CBI probe into Sushant Singh Rajput’s death – The Department of Personnel and Training issued a notification paving way for CBI probe in Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. The development came hours after the Centre, told the Supreme Court that it had accepted Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s request for a CBI probe. Earlier in the day, the SC sought a status report from Maharashtra Police on the investigation into Rajput’s death. The SC bench also asked Maharashtra, Bihar and Rajput’s father to file their replies on actor Rhea Chakraborty’s petition seeking transfer of case from Patna to Mumbai.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
72 06-08-2020 - Religion – At bhoomi pujan, PM likens mandir campaign to freedom movement – PM Narendra Modi on Wednesday (August 5) dedicated the Ram Mandir to the struggle and sacrifice of hundreds of kar sevaks, drawing a parallel between the campaign for construction of the temple in Ayodhya and the struggle for India’s independence. Speaking after performing ‘bhoomi pujan’ at the Ram Janmabhoomi site, he said the occasion marked the end of a centuries-long wait for a Ram Mandir and saluted those whose struggle and resolve “laid the foundation stone” for the temple.
(Religion)
73 06-08-2020 - Economy – Telangana offers tax cuts to companies hiring locals – The Telangana government has announced a slew of incentives to industries that recruit locals in skilled and semi-skilled jobs. The government has also decided to offer incentives to IT firms if they set up units in areas other than the western corridor of Hyderabad. A decision has also been taken by the government to promote electric vehicles to reduce air pollution, especially in Greater Hyderabad. Power tariff has been slashed considerably. Category I industries will be charged Re 0.50 per unit to Re 0.75 per unit for power consumption, while tariff will be Re 1per unit for category II industries.
(Indian Economy)
74 06-08-2020 - Economy – Trains set to run at 160kmph from Delhi to Mum, Kol by 2022 – The railway ministry has instructed its zones to complete the upgradation work of tracks and other associated facilities by March 2022, to enable passenger trains to run at 160 kmph on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes. Most sections of these railway corridors are likely to get barbed fencing which is required for allowing trains to run at that high speed. The respective divisional railway managers have been asked to avail longer blocks on tracks considering that currently very few passenger trains are being operated. They have been asked to start the work from next month. Currently, the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah corridors have potential speed of 130 kmph.
(Indian Economy)
75 06-08-2020 - Economy – DGFT in ‘overhaul’ mode to address trade issues – The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is undergoing a revamp to address issues related to trade barriers as well as help build capacities to accelerate exports. The body is working in consultation with the industry to augment domestic manufacturing and boost exports in several electronics and hardware items, especially those in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector. The development comes after the government earlier this year had to block exports of crucial devices like ventilators when it was found that there was not enough domestic capacity for these products to allow the industry to meet foreign commitments. The DGFT recently lifted the ban on exports after sufficient capacity had been created and seeing as the case fatality rate in the country was low, which meant less people needed to be on ventilators.
(Indian Economy)
76 06-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Sri Lanka sees 71% polling – Polling for Sri Lanka’s parliamentary election concluded on Wednesday (August 5) with a voter turnout of 71%. The results will be released on Thursday. Following health guidelines stipulated by the Election Commission, masked voters queued up in polling stations that were equipped with hand washing facilities. They maintained physical distancing with fellow voters, as they elected representatives to the new Parliament, in which the ruling Rajapaksa administration is seeking a two-thirds majority. The race includes two past Presidents — Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is PM in the current caretaker government, and Maithripala Sirisena — former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his United National Party’s former deputy leader Sajith Premadasa, who now leads a breakaway alliance.
(Governance and Institutions)
77 06-08-2020 - COVID-19 – Covid is claiming 1 life every 15 secs; global toll tops 7L – The global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 7,00,000 on Wednesday (August 5), with the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico leading the rise in fatalities. Nearly 5,900 people are dying every 24 hours from Covid-19 on average, according to Reuters calculations based on data from the past two weeks. That equates to 247 people per hour, or one person every 15 seconds. President Donald Trump said the coronavirus outbreak is as under control as it can get in the US, where more than 1,55,000 people have died amid a patchy response to the public health crisis that has failed to stem a rise in cases.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
78 06-08-2020 - Economy – Services sector activity contracts for 5th mth in row – Activity in the country’s crucial services sector contracted for the fifth consecutive month in July as the impact of the pandemic-induced lockdown continued to weigh on the segment as new business dropped. The IHS Markit India Services Business Activity Index registered a reading of 34.2 in July, marginally up from 33.7 in June, signalling further rapid reduction in services sector output. Moreover, the latest reading was among the lowest recorded in nearly 15 years of data collection, surpassed only by the unprecedented falls in the previous three months. The 50-point mark separates expansion from contraction. Looking ahead, the 12-month outlook for output was negative for a third successive month, with fears of a substantial economic downturn common among survey respondents.
(Indian Economy)
79 06-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Tyagi gets extension as Sebi chief till Feb 2022 – The government has extended the tenure of Ajay Tyagi as Sebi chairman by 18 months till February 2022. The extension comes at a time when the economy and the markets are passing through a tough phase, mainly induced by the coronavirus pandemic. This is the second extension for the Sebi chief. Earlier this year, Tyagi was given a six-month extension. Tyagi, a 1984-batch IAS officer of the Himachal Pradesh cadre, took over as chief of the markets regulator on March 1, 2017, succeeding U K Sinha. He was then appointed for three years. After taking over as Sebi chairman, one of the first things that Tyagi had embarked upon was to turn retail investors towards investments over “speculation”. Deepening the bond market is another focus area.
(Governance and Institutions)
80 06-08-2020 - COVID-19 – At 52k, India sees max single-day recoveries, overall rate now 67% – Even as Covid-19 cases continue to increase, India recorded 51,706 recoveries, the highest in a day so far. With this the overall recovery rate has improved to 67.2%. The total active cases in the country is now nearing 6 lakh, which is less than a third of the total Covid burden in the country. In the last 24 hours, 52,509 fresh cases were reported. While number of deaths are also increasing with 857 more deaths reported on Tuesday (August 4) taking the total to 39,795, the fatality rate – which is deaths over total number of infections - has dropped to 2.1% because of increasing share of recoveries even as new cases too are rising rapidly.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
81 05-08-2020 - COVID-19 – 24 million may drop out of school due to pandemic: UN – Almost 24 million children are at risk of not returning to school next year due to the economic fallout of COVID-19. The educational financing gap is also likely to increase by one third. More than 1.6 billion learners across the world have been affected by the disruption of the education system, but the pandemic has also served to exacerbate existing disparities, with vulnerable populations in low-income countries taking a harder and longer hit. For example, during the second quarter of 2020, 86% of children at the primary level have been effectively out of school in poor countries, compared to just 20% in highly developed countries. Even for those who do not drop out of school, learning losses could be severe, especially in the foundational years.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
82 05-08-2020 - World – N Korea has 'probably' developed nuclear devices to fit ballistic missiles: UN report – North Korea is pressing on with its nuclear weapons program and several countries believe it has "probably developed miniaturized nuclear devices to fit into the warheads of its ballistic missiles. The report by an independent panel of experts monitoring UN sanctions said the countries, which it did not identify, believed North Korea's past six nuclear tests had likely helped it develop miniaturized nuclear devices. Pyongyang has not conducted a nuclear test since September 2017.
(Defence and Military)
83 05-08-2020 - People & Personalities – HDFC Bank names Jagdishan successor to Puri as MD & CEO – HDFC Bank has named veteran Sashidhar Jagdishan as the new MD and CEO to succeed Aditya Puri. Mr. Jagdishan, whose appointment was approved by the RBI, would take charge on October 27 and hold office for a period of three years, India’s largest private sector bank said in a filing. Having joined as a manager in the finance function in 1996, Mr. Jagdishan rose to become the bank’s chief financial officer in 2008.
(People and Personalities)
84 05-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Rajapaksas aim for victory as Sri Lanka goes to polls today – Over 16 million voters in Sri Lanka will on Wednesday (August 5) have a chance to elect their representatives to Parliament in the all-island polls that the ruling Rajapaksa administration is aiming to sweep with a two-thirds majority. Following President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s rise to power last year on a huge mandate, his Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP, or People’s Party) is seeking a decisive parliamentary majority to amend the Constitution, especially the 19th Amendment passed during the former government’s term that clips the President’s executive powers.
(Governance and Institutions)
85 05-08-2020 - World – Explosions Rock Beirut – A pair of explosions shook the centre of the Lebanese capital on Tuesday (August 4), damaging buildings in several neighbourhoods, causing widespread injuries and sending a giant pink cloud rising from near the city’s port. The state-run National News Agency reported that a fire had broken out in a fireworks storehouse at the port before the explosion. But it was not immediately clear what had caused such a large blast. Lebanon’s health minister Hamad Hassan said more than 50 people had died and over 2,700 suffered injuries. With the wounded still streaming into hospitals and the search for missing people underway, the figures were likely to go higher. Lebanese PM Hassan Diab’s wife and daughter were also “slightly” injured. The explosion was reminiscent of massive blasts during Lebanon’s civil war and took place only three days before a UN-backed tribunal was set to give its verdict in the killing of former PM Rafik Hariri in a truck bombing over 15 years ago.
(Terrorism)
86 05-08-2020 - World – China accuses U.S. of ‘bullying’ over TikTok – China has accused the U.S. of “bullying” over popular video app TikTok, after President Donald Trump ramped up pressure for its U.S. operations to be sold to an American company. In the latest diplomatic spat between the world’s two biggest economies, Beijing hit back after Mr. Trump gave TikTok six weeks to arrange a sale of its U.S. operations — and said that his government wanted a financial benefit from the deal. The app has been under formal investigation on U.S. national security grounds, and Mr. Trump said that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok. He has given ByteDance until mid-September to strike a deal, a tactic that is almost unheard of.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
87 05-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Ayodhya awaits Modi’s launch of Ram temple construction – Twenty-eight years after Babri Masjid was demolished by kar sevaks, PM Modi will on Wednesday (August 5) formally launch the construction of a temple at the spot, where Hindus believe Lord Ram was born. The Supreme Court in last November permitted the construction of a Ram temple at the site where the Babri Masjid stood till December 6, 1992. Mr. Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will be among the five persons on stage at the bhoomi pujan ceremony for which 175 guests, including 135 seers, were invited by the Trust entrusted with the construction of the temple.
(Governance and Institutions, Religion)
88 05-08-2020 - Internal Security – In a first, women on combat duty near LoC – The Army has for the first time deployed women soldiers for internal security and combat duties near the Line of Control with Pakistan. On deputation from paramilitary force Assam Rifles, the women’s platoon has been stationed in Tangdhar sector of Kashmir. The 13-lakh-strong Army has been inducting women in small numbers since the mid-1990s but only as officers. Women are also not allowed to join the “fighting arms” of infantry, armoured corps, mechanised infantry, and artillery. It was only last year that the Army began the recruitment of the first lot of around 50 women as jawans or soldiers in the Corps of Military Police (CMP), who are undergoing training at present. The Army also plans to induct around 800 women in the military police, with a yearly intake of over 50 personnel, to assist in investigating criminal cases such as rapes and molestations as well as ensuring “good order and discipline” in the military formations.
(Defence and Military)
89 05-08-2020 - COVID-19 – India’s new Covid cases & deaths were world’s highest on Monday – India recorded the highest count of fresh Covid-19 cases in the world for the second day running while also reporting the most daily deaths from the virus on Monday (August 3). India’s death toll, at 814, was way higher than the fatalities reported on the day in Brazil (572) and the US (568), the two countries worst hit by the pandemic, as per data from worldometers.info. India had reported 49,134 fresh coronavirus cases on Monday, which remained higher than the count in the US (48,622) and Brazil (17,988). However, there was a silver lining in India’s rising Covid-19 graph on Tuesday — for the first time in weeks, active cases in the country decreased by 874.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
90 05-08-2020 - Economy – Trump bars H-1B visa holders from federal jobs – President Donald Trump has signed an executive order preventing federal agencies from contracting or subcontracting foreign workers — mainly those on H-1B visas. The move comes over a month after the Trump administration on June 23 suspended the H-1B visas, along with other types of foreign work visas, until the end of 2020 to protect American workers in a crucial election year. The new restrictions took effect from June 24. Mr. Trump’s order follows an announcement by the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that it would outsource 20% of its technology jobs to companies based in foreign countries.
(Regional Economy)
91 04-08-2020 - Covid-19 – India’s tally on Sunday was highest in the world – For the first time, India added the highest number of fresh Covid-19 cases among all countries on Sunday. India’s count of 53,641 cases on the day was higher than the infections detected in the US (49,038) and Brazil (24,801), the two countries that have the highest caseloads of the virus, according to data from worldometers.info. India also reported the world’s second highest number of Covid cases in a Monday-to-Sunday week for the first time, overtaking Brazil and behind only the US. India reported 3,69,588 cases during last week (July 27-Aug 2), higher than Brazil’s count of 3,13,776. The US logged 4,41,808 cases.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
92 04-08-2020 - World Politics – China suspends treaty with New Zealand – China suspended Hong Kong’s extradition treaty with New Zealand amid a row with Western nations protesting against a tough new security law that Beijing imposed on the city. New Zealand is the latest to join a string of Western powers — including Canada, Britain, Australia and Germany — that have suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong since the controversial law was introduced in late June. China has already hit back by suspending Hong Kong’s extradition treaties with Canada, Britain and Australia.
(World Politics)
93 04-08-2020 - COVID-19 – There may never be a silver bullet for COVID-19: WHO – The World Health Organization warned that there might never be a “silver bullet” for COVID-19, despite the rush to discover effective vaccines. The WHO urged governments and citizens to focus on doing the known basics, such as testing, contact tracing, maintaining physical distancing and wearing a mask in order to suppress the pandemic, which has upended normal life around the globe and triggered a devastating economic crisis. “We all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
94 04-08-2020 - Economy – Manufacturing contracts for fourth straight month: July PMI – India’s manufacturing sector activity contracted at a slightly faster pace in July as demand conditions remained subdued amid prolonged closures, following which firms reduced both staff numbers as well as purchasing activity. The headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) stood at 46 in July, down from 47.2 in June. This is the fourth straight month of contraction for the Indian manufacturing sector. In April, the index had slipped into contraction mode, after remaining in growth territory for 32 consecutive months. In PMI parlance, a print above 50 means expansion, while a score below that denotes contraction.
(Indian Economy)
95 04-08-2020 - World – N. Irish Nobel winner John Hume dead – John Hume, the Northern Irish politician who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for his pivotal role in ending decades of violence in the British province, has died aged 83. Mr. Hume, the former leader of the mainly Catholic Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), shared the Nobel with David Trimble of the Ulster Unionist Party after the pair helped forge the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. It helped to end three decades of bloody strife in Northern Ireland between the largely Catholic nationalist community who want to reunify with Ireland and Protestant unionists who want to remain part of Britain.
(People and Personalities)
96 04-08-2020 - World – 29 killed in IS raid on Afghan prison – At least 29 people have been killed in a raid on an Afghan prison claimed by the Islamic State group, as the country waited to see if a government ceasefire with the Taliban would rupture after its formal expiration. Fighting was still raging at the jail in the eastern city of Jalalabad, where some 1,700 IS and Taliban inmates were being held. The IS’s news outlet Amaq said its fighters were behind the raid, which saw hundreds of inmates escape before many of them were recaptured. The ongoing attack was Afghanistan’s most violent incident since the Taliban and Afghan security forces held a three-day ceasefire over the Id festival. The IS was not part of that truce which Afghan authorities hope will pave the way for peace talks with the Taliban as soon as this week.
(Terrorism)
97 04-08-2020 - Economy – MGNREGS running out of funds – One-third of the way through the financial year, government data show that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme has used up almost half its allocated funds, spending more than ₹48,500 crore out of the expanded ₹1 lakh crore allocation announced following the COVID-19 outbreak. A new survey of 13 States, published by the Azim Premji Foundation (APF), shows what that statistic means on the ground — a number of gram panchayats in vulnerable areas have already exhausted their funds for the scheme; lower employment rates as the monsoon stops work in several States, and fewer livelihood options for more than four lakh families across the country which have completed their allotted 100 days of work.
(Indian Economy)
98 04-08-2020 - COVID-19 – Palaniswami rejects three-language formula – Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami categorically stated that the AIADMK government will “never allow the three-language policy [which has been proposed as part of the National Education Policy 2020], and will continue to implement the two-language policy” in the State. As for NEP as a whole, the government would constitute committees to examine the policy before taking a stand on the proposals it entails, he said.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
99 04-08-2020 - Science and Technology – SpaceX with NASA crew is back home – Two NASA astronauts returned to Earth in a dramatic, retro-style splashdown, their capsule parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico to finish an unprecedented test flight by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company. It was the first splashdown by U.S. astronauts in 45 years, with the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry people to and from orbit. The return clears the way for another SpaceX crew launch as early as next month and possible tourist flights next year. Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken returned to earth in their SpaceX Dragon capsule named Endeavour, less than a day after departing the International Space Station and two months after blasting off from Florida. The capsule parachuted into the calm gulf waters about 40 miles off the coast of Pensacola.
(Science and Technology)
100 04-08-2020 - Covid-19 – Govt. sets out rules for yoga classes, gyms – All yoga institutes and gymnasiums in containment zones will remain closed, the Union Health Ministry said while issuing revised guidelines for opening these facilities for public use from August 5. The Ministry has specified that visitors here should maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet as far as feasible and while use of face covers/masks is mandatory at all times within the premises, during yoga exercise or exercising in gymnasiums, as far as possible only a visor may be used to avoid any difficulty in breathing.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
101 01-08-2020 - Economy – SBI net jumps 81%, NPAs shrink – State Bank of India (SBI)reported first-quarter net profit increased 81% to ₹4,189 crore, aided by an improvement in asset quality and gains from sale of a stake in its life insurance subsidiary. Net interest income rose 16% to ₹26,642 crore. Non-interest income climbed 18% to ₹9,497 crore. The sale of a small stake in SBI Life yielded a one-off gain of ₹1,539.73 crore. Loan loss provision decreased 19% to ₹9,420 crore.
(Indian Economy)
102 01-08-2020 - Economy – Eurozone economy contracts a record 12% – The economy of the 19-country Eurozone shrank by a devastating 12.1% in the April-June period from the quarter before — the largest drop on record — as COVID-19 lockdowns shut businesses and hampered consumer spending. Economists say the worst of the downturn is past as many restrictions have eased, but that the recovery will be drawn out and vulnerable to renewed virus outbreaks. European governments are countering the recession with massive stimulus measures. EU leaders have agreed on a €750 billion recovery fund backed by common borrowing to support the economy from 2021.
(Indian Economy)
103 01-08-2020 - COVID-19 – ‘India’s fatality rate among world’s lowest’ – Of the total COVID-19 active case load, 0.28% patients are on ventilators, 1.61% patients required ICU support and 2.32% are on oxygen support. Officials say that India has one of the lowest case fatality rates globally, which is also steadily decreasing. India has conducted a record 6,42,588 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours. The active cases under medical supervision are only 33.27% or approximately one-third of the total positive cases. India’s case fatality rate is also progressively reducing and currently stands at 2.18%, one of the lowest globally.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
104 01-08-2020 - Polity & Governance – Sajad Lone released from detention – Peoples Conference (PC) Chief Sajad Lone was released ahead of Id-ul-Zuha on Friday (July 31) after 360 days of detention. However, the detention of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was extended by three months. Mr. Lone was one of the signatories of the Gupkar Declaration, a statement signed by most of the regional parties on August 4 last year “to pledge a joint fight to protect J&K’s special status”. Ms. Mufti, one of the architects of the declaration, however, will remain behind bars, with her detention extended under the Public Safety Act (PSA) till November. Both Ms. Mufti and Mr. Lone were arrested on August 4-5 last year as the Centre revoked J&K’s special status. Over 230 mainstream leaders and activists were arrested during the period of political change. Most of the leaders have been released.
(Governance and Institutions)
105 01-08-2020 - World – Australia to make FB, Google pay for news in world first – The Australian government has said it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with Australian media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, the government aims to succeed where other countries have failed in making the global digital giants pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Google said Australia’s draft code was a heavy-handed step that could impede the digital economy. If the US-based platforms could not agree on pricing after three months, arbitrators would be appointed to make a binding decision, the draft said. The draft will be open to consultation until August 28, with the legislation to be introduced to parliament soon after. As well as payment, the code covers issues including access to user data and transparency of algorithms used to rank and present media content.
(Governance and Institutions)
106 01-08-2020 - World – Hong Kong delays polls citing Covid pandemic – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has postponed a September 6 election to the Chinese-ruled city's legislature by a year because of a rise in coronavirus cases, dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition which had hoped to make huge gains. The US quickly condemned the move, saying it was the latest example of Beijing undermining democracy. The decision to delay the vote came after 12 pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running for perceived subversive intentions and opposition to a sweeping new security law imposed by Beijing, prompting questions among many about whether the pandemic was the real reason for the delay.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
107 01-08-2020 - Economy – India reviews continuation of trade pact with Asean – The government is reviewing the continuation of the free trade agreement (FTA) with Asean in the wake of the trading bloc’s reluctance to address India’s concerns over what it believes are asymmetries in the decade-old treaty. The government’s main grouse is the rising trade deficit with the 10-country grouping, many of which is seen to be Chinese goods that are routed via some of the Asean members. The government is looking to revamp its strategy on FTAs with finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman too hinting at it. The Narendra Modi government has blamed the trade arrangements worked out by the UPA for a large part of the problem of trade deficit, arguing that the agreements with Asean, South Korea and Japan were signed in haste and India’s interests were not adequately protected.
(Indian Economy)
108 01-08-2020 - COVID-19 – Record 6.4L tests done in a day – India conducted a record 6,42,588 tests in a single day to detect Covid-19, taking the total tests to 1.88 crore while the country is also reporting less severe cases as compared to a fortnight ago. Only 0.28% of active cases are on ventilators, 1.61% patients needed ICU support and 2.32% are on oxygen assistance. This shows a slight improvement over the data on July 17, when 0.35% Covid-19 patients were on ventilators, around 1.94% cases in ICUs and 2.81% cases on oxygen beds. The active caseload of Covid patients in the country was 3.42 lakh then and the number has gone up by over 2 lakh now.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
109 01-08-2020 - Education – KVs unlikely to change medium of instruction – The Centre is unlikely to implement its own National Education Policy (NEP) recommendations regarding the medium of instruction in Kendriya Vidyalayas, which are directly controlled by the Education Ministry, or in schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education. Since the KVs and CBSE schools cater to the needs of people in transferable jobs, it would not be practical to use students’ mother tongue or regional languages as the medium of instruction, senior officials said. Since the NEP was released earlier this week, the fiercest debates have raged around the clause calling for the mother tongue or local language to be used as the medium of instruction “wherever possible” at least until Class 5, but preferably till Class 8 and beyond.
(Education)
110 01-08-2020 - Economy – Core sector output shrinks 15% in June, fertilizers buck trend – The output of eight core sector industries shrank for the fourth straight month in June 2020, although the contraction eased to 15%, showing some recovery from the 22% fall in May. Economists expect the negative trend to continue for at least two more months. During April-June 2020-21, the sector’s output dipped by 24.6% as compared to a positive growth of 3.4% in the same period previous year. Of the eight core sectors, the fertilizer industry was the only one which saw actual growth in June, with output rising 4.2% in comparison to June 2019. This, however, is lower than the May 2020 growth of 7.5%, but reflects the positive outlook in the agriculture sector where a normal monsoon is leading to expectations of a bumper kharif crop.
(Indian Economy)
111 31-07-2020 - Science & Technology – NASA’s Perseverance Rover Launches to Mars – NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is on its way to the Red Planet to search for signs of ancient life and collect samples to send back to Earth. Humanity's most sophisticated rover launched with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on July 30 on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission is to seek out signs of past microscopic life on Mars, explore the diverse geology of its landing site, Jezero Crater, and demonstrate key technologies that will help us prepare for future robotic and human exploration.
(Science and Technology)
112 31-07-2020 - COVID-19 – A death a minute: US toll tops 1.5L – US deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 1,50,000, the highest official toll in the world and another grim milestone in a pandemic that’s still raging in many parts of the country. One person in the US died about every minute from Covid-19 on Wednesday (July 29) as 1,461new deaths were recorded, the highest one-day increase since 1,484 on May 27. US coronavirus deaths are rising at their fastest rate in two months. Spikes in infections in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas this month have overwhelmed hospitals.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
113 31-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – Marathas are not eligible for EWS quota: State govt – The Maharashtra government has issued a circular stating the Maratha community would not be eligible to avail benefits under the quota for the 10% Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the general category in the state. Community representatives however said the state should withdraw its circular as it cannot stop the community from availing reservation benefits, or they would approach the court. The circular said the Maratha community has been given reservation under the socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC) category, so its members would not be able to avail benefit of 10% reservation under EWS for jobs and admission in educational institutions.
(Governance and Institutions)
114 31-07-2020 - World – China conducts drills in South China Sea – Beijing recently conducted “high-intensity” naval exercises in the South China Sea as tensions grow over the Asian power’s manoeuvres in the contested waters. China’s expanding military presence in the region has worried several of its neighbours, while the U.S. has vowed to stand up against Beijing’s territorial claims to much of the South China Sea, including the contested Paracel Islands. Chinese H-6G and H-6J jet bombers carried out “high-intensity training, and completed day-and-night training exercises in taking off and landing, long-range assault, and attacks on sea targets.
(Defence and Military)
115 31-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – Hong Kong bars 12 opposition candidates from election – Hong Kong’s government said on Thursday (July 30) 12 pro-democracy candidates had been disqualified from running for election to the legislature, citing opposition to a new national security law imposed by Beijing, but denied infringing civil rights. Disqualified candidates included pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, some members of the Civic Party, a moderate, old-guard opposition group, and others who won an unofficial ”primary” vote held by the opposition camp this month. The move is sure to infuriate supporters of democracy, a month after Communist Party rulers in Beijing announced the national security law that reins in dissent in the semi-autonomous city. It could also steer China further onto a collision path with the West.
(Governance and Institutions)
116 31-07-2020 - COVID-19 – 3 out of 5 districts with most active cases are in M’rashtra – Pune district topped in active cases in the country on Thursday (July 30), followed by Bengaluru (Urban). Third and fourth positions were occupied by Thane and Mumbai—which meant three Maharashtra districts were among the top five. Chennai, inching toward the 1-lakh tally, had the fifth highest active cases. Of the 5,43,113 active cases in India, Pune district alone accounts for almost 9% (48,815), which means nearly one of every 10 infected Indians is currently in Pune. Bengaluru (Urban) had 36,523 active cases on Thursday, while Thane and Mumbai had 31,923 and 20,158 cases respectively. Mumbai’s active case load started showing a decline in mid-July. However, it has nearly double the active cases than Delhi, which ranks seventh with a tally of 10,743.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
117 31-07-2020 - Economy – Govt licenses TV imports to support local production – In a move aimed at promoting domestic manufacturing, the government has decided to license the import of fully-built televisions sets by putting them on the “restricted” list. The move will make it difficult for shipments worth Rs 7,000 crore coming in from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries to enter India and initially benefit contract manufacturers. It is expected to result in backward integration with investment in better assembly lines and component production. The curbs are unlikely to impact prices. The decision will impact the business of companies such as homegrown Vu, and China’s TCL. It will also affect the import of some high-end TV models from companies such as Sony, LG, Xiaomi and Samsung, even though a large part of their sales are through locally-made/sourced TVs.
(Indian Economy)
118 31-07-2020 - Economy – U.S. economy shrinks by a record 33% – The U.S. economy shrank at a dizzying 33% annual rate in the April-June quarter — the worst quarterly plunge ever — when the viral outbreak shut down businesses, throwing tens of millions out of work and sending unemployment surging to 14.7%. The Commerce Department’s estimate of the second-quarter decline in the gross domestic product marked the sharpest such drop on records dating to 1947. The previous worst quarterly contraction, a 10% drop, occurred in 1958. The contraction last quarter was driven by a deep pullback in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of economic activity. Spending by consumers collapsed 34% as travel all but froze and shutdown orders forced many restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and other retail establishments to close.
(World Economy)
119 31-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – Trump wants to delay US elections – U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested postponing the November 3 presidential election in order to avoid voting by mail, which he has repeatedly called fraudulent, without basis. Mr. Trump tweeted out his suggestion shortly after news broke that the U.S. economy had experienced a record level of contraction in the second quarter of this year. Only the Congress is empowered to delay or change Election Day, which is set in US constitutional stone — to be held every four years on the first Tuesday after November 1. Minutes prior to tweeting out his suggestion, the President had tweeted that voting by mail was a “catastrophic disaster”.
(World Politics)
120 31-07-2020 - COVID-19 – India’s Covid toll tops 35k, fifth highest in world now – More than 54,000 fresh Covid-19 cases and 786 fatalities were reported from across the country on Thursday (July 30), both highest in a single day so far, even as the overall death count from the pandemic crossed 35,000, with more than 5,000 being reported in the last seven days. India now has the fifth highest Covid-19 death toll in the world after overtaking Italy’s fatality count of 35,132. The country’s overall toll stood at 35,748 on Thursday night. Of these, 18,356 have come in July alone, more than all Covid-19 deaths in the previous months put together. India’s coronavirus caseload crossed 16 lakh, with a record 54,211 new cases on Thursday (July 30).
(Healthcare and Medicine)
121 30-07-2020 - Defence – Rafales arrive at Ambala airbase – Forty-six months after a €7.87 billion contract was signed with France, the first five of the 36 Rafale fighter jets landed at the Ambala airbase on Wednesday (July 29). A formal induction ceremony of the Rafale aircraft in 17 Squadron is scheduled for the second half of August. The Rafale gives a capability boost to the IAF with its armaments and comes at a time of tensions with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.
(Defence and Military)
122 30-07-2020 - Government Schemes – Pawan Hans launches helicopter flights on Dehradun-Gauchar route in Uttarakhand under UDAN scheme – Pawan Hans Limited (PHL) has launched the first helicopter service on the Dehradun-New Tehri-Srinagar-Gauchar route in Uttarakhand under the UDAN scheme of the central government. The new service by Pawan Hans will enable connectivity between Dehradun, New Tehri, Srinagar and Gauchar. New helicopter services will enhance the aerial connectivity between hilly regions in Uttarakhand and bring down the average travel time by 20-25 minutes. The service will also benefit the Chaar Dhaam Yatra pilgrims.
(Governance and Institutions)
123 30-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – UP Sunni Waqf Board forms trust to build mosque – The UP Sunni Central Waqf Board has formed a 15-member-trust to look after the construction of a mosque on five acres of land allotted by the Supreme Court that paved the way for a Ram Temple in Ayodhya town in a landmark verdict last year. The trust is named as Indo Islamic Cultural Foundation, which will ensure the development of the allocated land in Dhannipur village in Ayodhya, which the board accepted in February 2020. In November 2019, the top court directed the Centre to set up a trust for the construction of a temple at the 2.77 acre disputed site in Ayodhya, and allot an alternative five-acre plot to the Sunni Central Waqf Board for building a new mosque.
(Constitution and Law, Governance and Institutions)
124 30-07-2020 - Economy – Fed repeats pledge to keep rates low amid coronavirus fallout – The US Federal Reserve has left rates at near-nil and repeated a pledge to use its “full range of tools” to support the economy as it tries to recover from the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. All members of the committee voted to leave the target range for short-term interest rates at between 0 and 0.25 per cent, where it has been since March 15 when the US was hit by the pandemic. The Fed also said it would continue to buy at least $120 billion (Dh440.75bn) in US Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities each month to steady the financial markets.
(Indian Economy)
125 30-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Deaths surge in U.S.; China cases jump – COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. surged to their highest level in months on Wednesday (July 29) as Muslim pilgrims began a pandemic-curtailed version of their sacred Haj. The human toll of the disease in the U.S. hit a magnitude not seen since mid-May with nearly 1,600 deaths recorded in 24 hours for the world’s hardest-hit country. Meanwhile China, where the deadly pathogen was first detected late last year, reported its highest single-day case total in three months. Residents in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong were adjusting to their strictest social-distancing measures yet over fears a “large-scale” outbreak could overwhelm hospitals. COVID-19 has claimed 6,60,000 lives and infected more than 16.7 million people across the globe, although experts believe the true infection rate could be wildly higher.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
126 30-07-2020 - World – Turkey approves new social media law – Turkey adopted a new social media law on Wednesday (July 29) that critics say will create a “chilling effect” on dissenting voices who have resorted to Twitter and other online platforms as the government tightened its grip on mainstream media. The law was backed by President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party and its nationalist allies to make foreign social media sites more accountable. It requires them to appoint a local representative to address authorities’ concerns. The law would allow Turkish authorities to remove content from platforms rather than blocking access as they have done in the past. Companies, including Facebook and YouTube that do not comply could have their bandwidth slashed by up to 90%, essentially blocking access, and face other penalties.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
127 30-07-2020 - Economy – States face fresh pressure for GST rate rationalisation – States are under fresh pressure to agree to rationalisation of GST rates by reworking slabs and raising the levy on garments and footwear as the Centre has got legal opinion to back its claim that it does not have a liability of paying compensation to the states that fail to increase collections by 14%. While officials at the Centre and the states have maintained this argument for months, last winter, state finance ministers had opposed any attempt to rationalise the levies at a meeting of the GST Council. Sources at the Centre argued that the 101st Amendment provides for five-year compensation to the states for “revenue loss” due to implementation of GST. “Revenue loss” has been defined to mean an annual collection growth of 14%, which was based on the higher growth rates seen during earlier years.
(Indian Economy)
128 30-07-2020 - COVID-19 – COVID-19 fatality rate at 2.23%: govt. – India’s COVID-19 Case Fatality Rate (CFR) stands at 2.23% on Wednesday (July 29), the lowest since April 1, 2020. The Ministry added that “the successful implementation of effective containment strategy, aggressive testing and standardised clinical management protocols based on holistic standard of care approach have resulted in a consistent trend of more than 30,000 recoveries/day for the sixth consecutive day.” The Ministry noted that the total number of recovered cases is fast approaching 1 million, with 35,286 patients having been discharged in the last 24 hours. The total recoveries have jumped to 9,88,029. The recovery rate has reached another high of 64.51% amongst COVID-19 patients. With the consistent increase in recoveries, the gap between recovered patients and active cases currently stands at 4,78,582.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
129 30-07-2020 - Education – 4-year UG courses in, M.Phil. out in new education policy – The new National Education Policy will introduce four-year undergraduate degrees with multiple entry and exit options, abolish the M.Phil. Degree, and establish a common higher education regulator with fee fixation for both private and public institutions. It also envisions universalisation of early childhood education from ages 3 to 6 by 2030, a new school curriculum with coding and vocational studies from Class 6, and a child’s mother tongue being used as the medium of instruction till Class 5. This is the first new education policy in 34 years, and was a poll promise of the BJP in 2014.
(Education)
130 30-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Night curfew to end under Unlock 3 norms, says MHA – Gymnasium and yoga institutes will open from August 5 and night curfew will end even as educational institutions, metro rail services and cinema halls will remain shut till the end of August. Swimming pools and entertainment parks will remain shut and all kinds of social, political or religious gatherings are prohibited. The MHA said the lockdown measures were to be strictly enforced in containment zones till August 31. The lockdown, first imposed in March in the wake of COVID-19, has been relaxed considerably over the past three months. The total number of cases has surged past 15 lakh, and more than 34,000 deaths have been reported.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
131 29-07-2020 - Economy – ‘Notification on 74% FDI in defence soon’ – The government is going to come out with a decision on 74% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence and a notification is likely in the next few days. In May, the government announced a series of measures to promote domestic defence manufacturing. These include a negative import list, separate budgetary allocation for domestic procurements, indigenisation of spares and components and raising the FDI cap through automatic route from 49% to 74%.
(Indian Economy)
132 29-07-2020 - Economy – Global electronic giants seek to ramp up India play – As many as six global electronics equipment manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics and Taiwan’s Pegatron, are in final stages of discussion with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to either set up units or expand their present ones in India under a special window that expires in three days. Among the other global electronic manufacturing companies, Singapore-based Flextronics, now re-christened as Flex, has also approached the government to avail benefits under the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme by expanding its Chennai unit.
(Indian Economy)
133 29-07-2020 - Study/Research – Ray of hope: Scientists get closer to blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s – A newly developed blood test for Alzheimer’s has diagnosed the disease as accurately as methods that are far more expensive or invasive, a significant step toward a long-time goal for patients, doctors and dementia researchers. The test has the potential to make diagnosis simple, affordable and widely available. The test determined whether people with dementia had Alzheimer’s instead of another condition. And it identified signs of the degenerative disease 20 years before memory and thinking problems were expected in people with a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s. Such a test could be available for clinical use in as little as 2 to 3 years.
(Science and Technology)
134 29-07-2020 - World – For third straight year, desis lead in acquiring Australian citizenship – For the third consecutive year, Indians have emerged as the largest group to obtain Australian citizenship. As many as 38,209 Indians were conferred citizenship during the twelve-month period that ended on June 30, 2020, constituting 18.6% of the total number of new citizens. The Australian government termed the recently concluded fiscal year as a ‘record year’ in which over two lakh people became new citizens. In fiscal year 2017-18, 17,756 Indians had acquired Australian citizenship, topping the charts for the first time with the UK being relegated to the second spot. In the next year, 28,470 Indians obtained Australian citizenship.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
135 29-07-2020 - Economy – EU to restrict exports to Hong Kong – The European Union will restrict exports to Hong Kong of equipment that could be used for surveillance and repression after Beijing imposed a controversial new security law. The bloc has expressed deep concerned over the new law, which critics say will severely curb Hong Kong’s longstanding autonomy and relative freedom. But the EU has struggled to agree a united response to China, with member states deeply divided over whether to stand up to Beijing — a hugely important trading partner — or to try to cooperate with it. France and Germany proposed the restriction on so-called “dual use” technology at a meeting of Foreign Ministers earlier this month. Along with the export restriction, the EU will also bring in measures to support the population of the former British colony by making it easier for them to travel to Europe through the granting of visas, scholarships and academic exchanges.
(Indian Economy)
136 29-07-2020 - World – China halts HK extradition pacts with Canada, Australia and U.K. – China has announced the suspension of Hong Kong’s extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain in a tit-for-tat move following similar decisions by those countries over a controversial new security law. Western nations have angered Beijing over their responses to the law imposed on Hong Kong which they see as an erosion of the civil liberties and human rights the city has enjoyed since its handover from Britain in 1997. Canada, Britain and Australia are part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance. The other members are New Zealand, which suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong earlier on Tuesday (July 28), and the United States, which has signalled it is preparing to do the same.
(Treaties and Protocols)
137 29-07-2020 - People & Personalities – Malaysia’s former PM gets 12 years in jail – Malaysia’s former leader Najib Razak was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 12 years in jail on July 28 in the first trial over a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB that stretched to the Gulf States and Hollywood. In a case widely seen as a test of the nation’s resolve to stamp out corruption and which could have big political implications, high court judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali sentenced Mr. Najib to 12 years and a fine of 210 million ringgit ($49 million) on a charge of abuse of power. Mr. Najib, 67, also received 10 years in jail on each of three charges of criminal breach of trust and three charges of money laundering for illegally receiving nearly $10 million from SRC International, a former unit of the state fund.
(People and Personalities)
138 29-07-2020 - COVID-19 – No indication virus is seasonal: WHO – The spread of the novel coronavirus does not appear to be impacted by seasonality, the WHO has said, warning against false beliefs that summer is safer. Officials pointed out that some of the hardest-hit countries are currently in the midst of different season. While it is summer in the U.S., which with nearly 1,48,000 deaths and close to 4.3 million cases is the hardest-hit country, the second most affected country Brazil, which counts more than 87,000 deaths, is in winter.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
139 29-07-2020 - Education – New education policy set to get Cabinet nod today – The draft New Education Policy (NEP 2020), likely to be placed before the Union cabinet on Wednesday (July 29), gives nod to global universities to set up campuses in India and a complete overhaul of the regulatory system in higher education besides suggesting, among other things, that standalone technical institutions become multi-disciplinary. It also seeks to achieve 50% and 100% gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher and school education by 2030 and increase government’s investment on education by up to 20% in the next ten years. The new policy also states that medium of instruction should be in mother tongue or local language till Class VI and preferably till Class VIII and beyond. The HRD ministry had released the draft NEP in 2019 which recommended revision of curriculum and pedagogical structure from a 10+2 system to a 5+3+3+4 system covering ages 3-18, with focus on language and mathematics in Class I to III.
(Education)
140 29-07-2020 - COVID-19 – National tally zooms past 15L, 781 deaths on Tue – India’s Covid-19 caseload went past the 15-lakh mark on Tuesday (July 28), with the last 5 lakh cases having come in just 12 days, even as the country reported its secondbiggest jump in infections and the highest death toll of 781 in a single day. After showing a dip on Monday, fresh cases again rose to 49,292 on Tuesday, the second-highest daily count after over 50,000 infections on Sunday. Deaths recorded went past the previous high of 757 on July 24. India’s coronavirus caseload is the third highest in the world after the US (44.3 lakh) and Brazil (24.4 lakh). Russia has the fourth largest count of cases at 8.2 lakh.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
141 28-07-2020 - Awards & Honours – Top Pak civilian award for separatist Geelani – The Pakistani senate has unanimously passed a resolution conferring the country’s highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Pakistan, on Kashmiri separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, besides proposing an engineering university in his name. The senate also decided to hold its session in the “legislative assembly” of Muzaffarabad in POK on August 5, which marks the first anniversary of the defanging of Article 370 in J&K.

(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
142 28-07-2020 - Arts & Culture – 300 year old Kali temple reconstructed with Indian support in Bangladesh – The High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das has jointly inaugurated the reconstructed Sree Sree Joykali Matar temple at Natore with the State Minister of ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak. The MoU for the reconstruction of the temple at Lalbazar, Natore was signed in 2016. The Government of India provided a grant assistance of Taka 97 lakh for the reconstruction of the historic temple under its High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP). The Sree Sree JoyKali Matar temple is among the oldest temples in Bangladesh. It was built approximately 300 years back in the early 18th century by Shri Dayaram Roy. He was an influential Dewan of Queen Bhahani of Natore and the founder of Dighapatia Royal Family.
(Art Culture Literature)
143 28-07-2020 - Defence – India and Indonesia resolve to expand defence ties – India and Indonesia have vowed to expand security cooperation in a range of areas including defence industries and technology sharing, as the two maritime neighbours aimed at injecting a new momentum to their strategic partnership. The possible areas of further expansion of defence and military ties were discussed during talks between both the countries. Sources said the issue of possible export of BrahMos cruise missile to Indonesia by India and ways to further deepen maritime security cooperation figured prominently in the talks.
(Defence and Military)
144 28-07-2020 - World – China seizes U.S. consulate in Chengdu – China took over the premises of the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Monday (July 27), after ordering the facility to be vacated in retaliation for China’s ouster last week from its consulate in Houston, Texas. The seizure capped a dramatic escalation in tensions between the world’s two biggest economies that began when employees at China’s Houston consulate were seen burning documents in a courtyard last Tuesday, hours before Beijing announced that it had been ordered to leave the facility.
(World Politics)
145 28-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Covid-19 toll crosses 33,000 as daily cases dip to just over 46k – A day after India had added over 50,000 infections to its Covid-19 count for the first time, fresh cases dropped to their lowest in five days, with 46,357 infections being detected in the country on Monday (July 27). The day’s toll, at 638, was also the least in a week. The dip was consistent with the long-running trend of lower number of cases recorded on Mondays. However, unlike in previous weeks, this time testing had seen a rise on Sunday, with over 5 lakh conducted in the country for the first time. With rising numbers, active cases were set to cross the 5-lakh mark, and stood at over 4,97,000 on Monday, as per data collated from state governments.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
146 28-07-2020 - Economy – Govt. to go ahead with divestment of 23 PSUs cleared by Cabinet: Nirmala Sitharaman – The government is working to complete stake sale process of 23 public sector companies whose divestment has been cleared by the Cabinet. The FM said the government is willing to listen to all issues being faced industry and has an open mind with regard to further measures that may be needed to support the economy. To a query on whether the government will provide support to small finance banks (SFB) and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), the FM said she would soon meet them to review their situation.
(Indian Economy)
147 28-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – Won’t move money in PM Cares Fund to NDRF: Centre to SC – The Centre has strongly defended the PM CARES Fund in the Supreme Court saying it's a public trust meant to receive "voluntary contributions" to fight COVID-19 pandemic and the budgetary allocations for NDRF and SDRF are not "being touched". The statement was made by the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, before a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan which reserved its order on one of the prayers of the PIL, filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), seeking a direction that all the money collected under the PM CARES Fund for the COVID-19 pandemic should be transferred to National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
(Governance and Institutions)
148 28-07-2020 - Defence – First 5 Rafales head for India, will touch down tomorrow – So, it’s finally jet, set, go! The first five Rafale fighters tore into the skies over France with sonic booms on July 27 to begin their 7,000-km flight to India, which will include mid-air refuelling and an overnight pit stop in UAE. The three single-seat and two twin-seat omni-role fighters, flown by seven IAF pilots led by commanding officer Group Captain Harkirat Singh, will touch down in Ambala to launch the 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron on July 29. The fighters, dubbed “game-changers” by IAF, will touch down here in the middle of the ongoing military confrontation with China. But top IAF sources played down the “overhype”, stressing that new fighters take time to settle down and be properly integrated into the war-fighting machinery.
(Defence and Military)
149 28-07-2020 - Economy – Govt imposes quality curbs on ‘China goods’, 370 items – Nearly 371 categories of items such as toys, steel bars, steel tubes, consumer electronics, telecom items, heavy machinery, paper, rubber articles and glass which are imported from countries such as China would be brought under the mandatory Indian Standards regime by next March. This will put a curb on the import of sub-standard items. The commerce ministry had identified these items last year. Officials said the process has been expedited to meet the requirement under Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative to reduce imports and increase exports.
(Indian Economy)
150 28-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – Rajasthan Governor gives nod to House session but with riders – Declaring “Raj Bhavan has no intention to not call the (assembly) session”, Rajasthan governor Kalraj Mishra has directed the Ashok Gehlot cabinet to submit a fresh request based on his “three point advice”, including a “clear notice of 21 days”, to convene the House, unless it spells out it wants to seek a trust vote. Sources said the Gehlot government’s fresh proposal could be for a session at a week’s notice, albeit without committing to a trust vote. Governor Mishra’s rider for a session “at short notice” comes two days after the Gehlot government put in a “revised” cabinet proposal to convene the House to discuss the ongoing pandemic, take stock of the state’s finances and pass some bills. Besides giving a 21-day notice, the “points” that the cabinet now needs to comply with include video-recording and live telecast of the House proceedings if the government chooses to go for a trust vote.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Politics)
151 27-07-2020 - People & Personalities – Olivia de Havilland and John Saxon dead – Olivia de Havilland, classic star of Hollywood and two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress, died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Paris, France, on July 26. She was 104. The actress is known for her portrayal of Melanie in. John Saxon, the rugged actor who kicked around with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and appeared in three Nightmare on Elm Street movies for director Wes Craven, died Saturday (July 26). He was 83. 
(People and Personalities)
152 27-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – India celebrates 21st anniversary of Kargil War victory, PM says World has seen nation's strength – Glowing tributes were paid to the soldiers who fought the Kargil War as India on Sunday (July 26) celebrated the 21st anniversary of its victory, with PM Modi saying the world had witnessed the country's strength and the valour of its armed forces when Pakistan tried to "backstab" it. Wreaths were laid at various memorials across the country by leaders and senior officers of the three services to commemorate the victory of Indian armed forces after a 60-day war against the Pakistan Army intruders in the Kargil, Drass and Batalik sectors in 1999. Kargil Vijay Diwas is symbol of fearless determination and exceptional valour of our armed forces.
(Defence and Military)
153 27-07-2020 - World – Fires and pepper spray in Seattle as police protests widen across U.S. – Weeks of violent clashes between federal agents and protesters in Portland, Ore., galvanized thousands of people to march through the streets of American cities on Saturday (July 25), injecting new life into protests that had largely waned in recent weeks. One of the most intense protests was in Seattle, where a day of demonstrations focused on police violence left a trail of broken windows and people flushing pepper spray from their eyes. At least 45 protesters had been arrested as of early evening, and both protesters and police officers suffered injuries.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
154 27-07-2020 - Economy – Australia’s migration intake to fall by over 2 lakh due to Covid-19; Indians affected – Australia’s migration intake will drop significantly to 31,000 in 2020-21 from 232,000 in 2018-19 due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, impacting thousands of Indians planning to emigrate to this country. While the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Australian economy are still evolving, migration, which is a key driver of the economy, has been hit following the travel bans, border closures imposed earlier this year since the contagion began.
(Indian Economy)
155 27-07-2020 - Economy – Remittances to India likely to decline 25%; fall in oil prices to hit flow from Gulf region – Remittances to India are estimated to decline sharply by about 25 per cent in FY2021 amid the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown. Private transfers are expected to slow to $55-60 billion in FY21 on a year-on-year basis. India is the largest recipient of remittances (in value terms) in the worId and received nearly $76 billion of flows (2.7 per cent of GDP) in FY20. These flows help boost household income, support private consumption and add stability to current account balance (CAB). Many Indians working in the Gulf region had recently lost jobs and more layoffs are in the offing as lockdown and the decline in global trade are set to hit the global economic growth. Kerala — which is one of the largest recipients of remittances in India — is expected to witness a decline in remittances.
(Indian Economy)
156 27-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – With 100 days to elections, Trump trails in polls amid growing unrest – With 100 days to go for the 2020 elections, the US is boiling with social unrest and political fervour, with riots and clashes in several cities over the weekend and a brewing confrontation between a federal Republican administration and states and cities run by Democrats. President Trump is pouring in heavily-armed and militarised federal enforcement personnel into many cities, including Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Baltimore, and Philadelphia — all Democrat-run — to contain growing protests that began as a Black Lives Matter movement and is now transforming into a broader agitation against the Trump administration’s strong-arm methods, including what some critics describe as Gestapo tactics where unidentified federal personnel are scooping up protesters from the streets.
(World Politics)
157 27-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Record 50,000+ infections on Sun; over 5k deaths in 7 days – Daily Covid-19 cases in India went past 50,000 for the first time on Sunday (July 26) even as the total caseload crossed 14 lakh, capping the deadliest week of the pandemic so far, when total cases grew by 28% and the death toll jumped by 19%. On Sunday, 50,362 fresh cases were reported in the country, beating the previous single-day high of 49,055 on Friday. India has now recorded 14,34,851 Covid-19 cases in all. One in every five coronavirus cases in India till date was recorded in the past week. During this week (July 20-26), 3,17,892 new infections were detected, a 34% jump over the previous week’s tally of 2,37,999 cases. The week also saw 5,315 deaths from the virus, 24% higher than the toll of 4,285 in the previous week.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
158 27-07-2020 - COVID-19 – N. Korea reports first case as global infections top 16 million – North Korea declared its first suspected COVID-19 case on July 26, becoming one of the last countries to do so as the number of people infected worldwide passed 16 million. The isolated, impoverished state had until now insisted it had not detected a single COVID-19 case — even as the pandemic swept the planet, overwhelming health systems and trashing the global economy. At least 6,45,000 people around the world have succumbed to the respiratory disease, with the United States continuing to be the worst-hit country by far.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
159 27-07-2020 - World – South China Sea dispute: Australia says Beijing's claims have no legal basis – Australia has formally rejected China's territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea, aligning itself more closely with the US as tensions rise. Australia said the claims, which take in the majority of the sea, had "no legal basis". China has not reacted. It comes after the US called some of China's actions in the area "unlawful". In recent years China has built bases on artificial islands in the sea, saying its rights go back centuries. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam contest China's claims. The countries have wrangled over territory for decades but tensions have steadily increased in recent years, with several maritime confrontations taking place.
(Defence and Military, World Politics)
160 27-07-2020 - Environment & Ecology – Over 14 lakh affected by Bihar floods – Floods continue to wreak havoc on 11 districts in north-eastern Bihar on Sunday (July 26), with over 14 lakh people affected so far. Seven persons have been reportedly killed. Sources said the government has deployed IAF helicopters to drop food packets and set up 463 community kitchens and 26 relief camps in the affected areas. Nearly 1.7 lakh people are getting food from the community kitchens and 14,011 have taken shelter in relief camps. As many as 25 teams of the National and State Disaster Response Force are engaged in relief and rescue operations.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
161 25-07-2020 - Environment & Ecology – Nearly 28 lakh people affected by Assam floods, toll rises to 93 – The flood situation in Assam improved marginally on July 24 but three people drowned to take the death tally to 93. Another 26 were killed in landslides triggered by the intermittent heavy rainfall since May 22. Large swathes of East Siang and other districts along the flow of river Siang in Arunachal Pradesh have also been affected, with 500 metres of a strategic road washed away. Siang is one of the three rivers that form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream. The number of affected people across 26 flood-hit districts stood at 27.8 lakh till Friday (July 24) evening. 
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
162 25-07-2020 - Environment & Ecology – Bihar flood situation turns grim – The flood situation northeastern Bihar turned grim on July 24 after the water levels in several rivers rose dangerously and breached embankments at many places. Gushing waters forced the Railways to stop train services on the Darbhanga-Samastipur section. About 8 lakh people in 10 districts of northeastern Bihar, comprising 64 blocks and 426 panchayats, are currently affected by floods. The government has set up 28 relief camps and community kitchens.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
163 25-07-2020 - Arts & Culture – PM to initiate building of Ram temple at 12.30pm, Aug 5 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform the ground-breaking ceremony for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya at 12.30 pm on August 5, finalised as per suggestions by a battery of astrologers. While top BJP leaders will be in attendance, the VHP has sent soil collected from 11 religious places in different parts of the country to Ayodhya to be used in the ceremony.
(Art Culture Literature)
164 25-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Race for desi vaccine hots up, human trials begin in 6 cities – The race for an indigenous vaccine against the novel coronavirus is on in earnest. Human trials using the vaccine candidates of two companies — Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila — are currently on in six cities in as many states. The latest subject was a 30-year-old man who on July 24 was the first person from Delhi to be given a 0.5 ml intramuscular injection of Bharat Biotech (BB)’s Covaxin at AIIMS. Both BB and Zydus were granted permission for Phase I and II clinical trials and administered the first doses of their vaccine candidates to volunteers on July 15. A third vaccine candidate, developed by Oxford University, is soon to be tested in India. Serum Institute, which is in a manufacturing partnership with the UK’s Astra Zeneca, has said it will begin human trials as soon as it receives regulatory approval.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
165 25-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – After HC order, Gehlot stages dharna for Assembly session – After the Rajasthan High Court ordered status quo to be maintained in the disqualification proceedings against rebel leader Sachin Pilot and dissident MLAs, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot along with his legislators supporting him staged a sit-in on the lawns of Raj Bhawan here on July 24, demanding that the Governor give approval for convening a session of the State Assembly. Mr. Gehlot told journalists outside the Raj Bhawan, while accusing Governor Kalraj Mishra of not giving the go-ahead “under some pressure from above”. He said he wanted to go to the floor of the House and prove his majority. Earlier in the day, the 19 dissident Congress MLAs of the Pilot camp got partial relief from the High Court, which ordered maintenance of status quo on the disqualification notices issued by Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi to them. The court order has essentially put the disqualification procedure on hold. No action will be taken against the legislators until the Supreme Court resumes the hearing on the Speaker’s special leave petition on July 27.
(Constitution and Law, Governance and Institutions)
166 25-07-2020 - Arts & Culture – Muslim prayers in Hagia Sophia for first time in 86 years – Muslim prayers have been held in the iconic Hagia Sophia for the first time in 86 years after the reconversion of the Istanbul landmark into a mosque earlier this month. The Friday prayers took place two weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan controversially declared the nearly 1,500-year-old monument open to Muslim worship after a top court ruled the building's conversion to a museum by modern Turkey's founding statesman in the mid-1930s was illegal. Erdogan, accompanied by cabinet minister and other top officials, joined hundreds of worshippers inside Hagia Sophia as large crowds gathered outside. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built as a cathedral during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 537 but converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
(Art Culture Literature)
167 25-07-2020 - Science & Technology – U.S. accuses Russia of testing weapon in space – The U.S. and the U.K. have accused Russia of test-firing an anti-satellite weapon in space. The U.S. warned that the threat against Washington's systems was “real, serious and increasing.” Washington says it has proof that Moscow conducted a non-destructive test of an anti-satellite weapon. Russia's defence ministry earlier said it was using new technology to perform checks on Russian space equipment. The US has previously raised concerns about new Russian satellite activity. But it is the first time the UK has made accusations about Russian test-firing in space. They come just days after an inquiry said the UK government "badly underestimated" the threat posed by Russia.
(Science and Technology)
168 25-07-2020 - World – China asks U.S. to shut Chengdu consulate – China has ordered the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu to close in retaliation for one of its missions in the United States being shuttered, capping a furious week of Cold War-style diplomacy. The announcement of the closure followed a torrent of warnings from top American officials about the “tyranny” of China, and Chinese nationals being indicted in the U.S. on various charges. The Ministry emphasised the closure was directly in response to the U.S. ordering the Chinese consulate in Houston to shut down by Friday (July 24).
(World Politics)
169 25-07-2020 - Internal Security – ‘China yet to disengage from LAC spots’ – China is yet to either fully disengage or dilute its extensive military build-up at most points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). U.S.-based intelligence report documents 50 new encampments, bases and heliports in Ladakh. The report, published on July 22, has documented 26 new Chinese encampments, 22 new support bases and two new heliports, underlining the unprecedented scale of the Chinese build-up on its side of the LAC. The build-up, India believes, has gone against past commitments to keep the peace on the border.
(Defence and Military)
170 25-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Cases cross 13-lakh mark, daily deaths are over 750 – With 48,962 COVID-19 positive cases and 757 deaths on Friday (July 24), for the third consecutive day cases and deaths in India crossed the 45,000 and 750 marks. Total cases stood at 13,36,874, with more that one lakh cases added in just the last two days. Of the confirmed cases, 63.44% have recovered, but active cases went up further to 4,57,387. Maharashtra (9,615 cases and 278 deaths) and Tamil Nadu (6,785 cases and 88 deaths) continue to contribute the highest increases. The death toll in India is 31,413, the sixth overall among countries with the third highest daily rise (730 deaths on average in the last week) behind Brazil (1,056) and the U.S. (849).

(Healthcare and Medicine)
171 24-07-2020 - Education – NITs, centrally-funded institutes to drop Class 12 marks criteria: HRD – Union HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has said the Central Seat Allocation Board has decided to drop the Class 12 marks criteria for admission to undergraduate courses in National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and all other centrally funded technical institutions this year due to the ongoing battle against coronavirus pandemic. Pokhriyal said apart from qualifying JEE Main, the eligibility is to secure a minimum of 75 per cent marks in Class 12 Boards exams or rank among the top 20 percentile in their qualifying examinations. JEE Main 2020 qualified candidates will now only need to obtain a passing certificate in class XII examination irrespective of the marks obtained. Due to the partial cancellation of class XII exams by several Boards, Joint Admission Board (JAB) has decided to relax the eligibility criterion for JEE (Advanced), 2020 qualified candidates, this time. 
(Education)
172 24-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Independence Day event scaled down – The Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort will be limited to the PM’s speech, a 21-gun salute, unfurling of the national flag, the national anthem and release of tri-colour balloons “keeping in view the limitations and precautionary steps” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry suggest inviting COVID-19 warriors such as doctors, health workers, sanitation workers as a recognition of their noble service.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
173 24-07-2020 - COVID-19 – US tops 4 million coronavirus cases – Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States reached more than 4 million on Thursday (July 23). Deaths in the US now number 143,000. COVID-19 has rapidly spread across the globe. Worldwide, there are now 15.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 625,000 deaths. Brazil has the second-highest number of cases, at 2.2 million, followed by India at 1.2 million, Russia at 793,000, South Africa at 394,000 and Mexico at 370,000.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
174 24-07-2020 - Economy – India, Thailand top sources for tiger ‘cake, wine’: UN – Tiger wine goes for $1,000 a pop. Tiger cake, sold like chocolate bars, fetches the same. The illegal trade in tiger parts has moved on from just medicinal pitches to luxury items. And India is one of the two biggest suppliers. Between 2007 and 2018, two-thirds of all wildlife seizures globally were of tiger bones. Thailand and India are the main source countries for these seizures. The ones in Thailand came from farmed animals illegal tiger farms breed them in captivity — while those in India were from the wild. Of the 155 cases in which the nationality of tiger traffickers could be determined, 18% were Indian, only behind Chinese (29%).
(Indian Economy)
175 24-07-2020 - Science & Technology – China launches first Mars mission – China has successfully launched its first Mars probe, aiming to complete orbiting, landing and roving in a single mission, taking an ambitious step towards planetary exploration of the solar system. A Long March-5 rocket, China’s largest and most powerful launch vehicle, carrying the spacecraft with a mass of about five tonnes, soared into the sky from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of southern China’s island province of Hainan. China aims to catch up with India, the US, Russia and the European Union to reach the red planet. The Chinese Mars probe named Tianwen 1 or Quest for Heavenly Truth 1, will fulfil three scientific objectives: orbiting the red planet for comprehensive observation, landing on Martian soil and sending a rover to roam the landing site.
(Science and Technology)
176 24-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Israeli scientists to work with Indians on 30-sec Covid tests – India and Israel will work together to develop a set of new generation Covid-19 tests that aim to bring the entire testing process down to a few seconds, be widely available, and ultimately help open economies. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, these breakthrough technologies will be tested in India, and if successful, be manufactured in India and marketed jointly by India and Israel to the world. A flight will be dispatched from Israel in the coming week which will include Israeli military R&D scientists and tech specialists who will work with an Indian team under the Prime Minister’s principal scientific adviser K Vijayaraghavan at AIIMS for about two weeks.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
177 24-07-2020 - Arts & Culture – Pakistan opens 200-year-old gurdwara after seven decades – An over 200-yearold historical gurdwara at Quetta in Pakistan’s Balochistan province was handed over to the Sikh community on Thursday (July 23) by the provincial government. After Partition, the gurdwara building was converted into a government girls’ school, which was still running, but now the students would be shifted to other schools. This has come five months after the Balochistan government returned a 200-year-old temple to the Hindu community and has raised hopes of the remaining gurdwaras in the province being handed over to the Sikh community.
(Art Culture Literature)
178 24-07-2020 - Defence – Finally, order out on PC for women in Army – The defence ministry has finally issued the formal order to grant permanent commission (PC) to women officers in eight more branches of the Army, in accordance with the SC directive in February, which will “empower them to shoulder larger roles” in the 13-lakh strong force. The “government sanction letter” specifies that women short-service commission (SSC) officers will be granted PC — if found eligible by a selection board — in Army Air Defence (AAD), Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Army Service Corps (ASC), Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), and Intelligence Corps. They are already eligible for PC in the Judge and Advocate General (JAG) and Army Educational Corps (AEC) branches.  Women number just over 1,600 in the 43,000-strong officer cadre in the Army. The military brass for long opposed PC and command roles for women due to “operational, practical and cultural problems” but had to relent after the court directive to end gender bias in the force.
(Defence and Military)
179 24-07-2020 - Economy – After FDI, Chinese cos now face curbs in getting govt contracts – In a significant escalation of tension with China, the Centre has changed rules to enable curbs on bidders from countries that share a land border with India “on the grounds of defence and national security”. Though the order does not name any country—as in the the April 17 order that blocked FDI through the automatic route from the same set of neighbours—it is clearly aimed at scrutinising and imposing curbs on Chinese investments and partnerships in Indian projects. The new rules seek to block supply of stationery, turbines and telecom equipment as well as award of road and power contracts to companies that have a link with China.
(Indian Economy)
180 24-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Covid deaths cross 30k with record spike of 750 on Thurs – Deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic in the country crossed 30,000 and India’s toll rose to the sixth highest in the world on Thursday (July 23), even as fresh cases surged to another new high, crossing 48,000 for the first time. At 750, fatalities on Thursday were also the highest recorded in a single day so far. India’s Covid-19 death toll has risen by more than 5,000 in the last seven days, having crossed the 25,000 mark exactly a week ago. By contrast, it had taken 10 days for the count to hit 25,000 from the 20,000 mark, and 11 days to rise from 15,000 to 20,000.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
181 23-07-2020 - Economy – Rising water crisis forces Indian farmers to rethink their crops selection – Farmers love rice and wheat primarily because of stable prices and assured state purchases. These two staples, along with another thirsty crop, sugar cane, are grown in 40% of the country’s gross farmed area but consume about 80% of its irrigation water. India’s 1.3 billion people have access to only about 4 per cent of the world’s water resources, and farmers consume almost 90 per cent of the groundwater water available. As global temperatures rise and overuse of water depletes existing resources, the threat to lives and businesses in Asia’s third-largest economy is projected to grow. Nearly half the country’s population faces high-to-extreme water stress and about 200,000 die each year due to inadequate access to safe water. Stoked by climate change, the water crisis has forced PM Modi’s government to try and turn around decades of established farming practices and convince the country’s most powerful voting bloc to change the crops they plant. Water-guzzlers like rice and wheat are out, corn and pulses are in. 
(Agriculture, Indian Economy)
182 23-07-2020 - COVID-19 – India records highest single-day recoveries – India reported its highest ever number of recoveries on a single day, with 28,472 COVID-19 patients having been cured or discharged from hospitals in 24 hours. With this, the number of patients recovered stands at 7,53,049. This has strongly boosted the recovery rate to 63.13%.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
183 23-07-2020 - Economy – Declaring country of origin on products mandatory for e-commerce platforms: Centre to HC – The Centre has told Delhi High Court that it is mandatory for the e-commerce companies to declare the country of origin of the products sold on their platforms. There is a provision for declaring the country of origin on e-commerce sites under the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011. The affidavit was filed in response to a plea seeking directions to the government to ensure the display of name of the manufacturing country on the products offered for sale on e-commerce websites. The high court has asked the respondents to file their replies and listed the matter for hearing on 2 September.
(Indian Economy)
184 23-07-2020 - Study/Research – Humans arrived in N America 30,000 years ago: Study – Stone tools unearthed in a cave in central Mexico and other evidence from 42 archeological sites indicate people arrived in North America earlier than previously known — over 30,000 years ago. The findings contradict the conventional view that the first people arrived in the Americas around 13,000 years ago. It suggests low numbers of people entered the continent — some perhaps by boat along a Pacific coastal route — and some died out without leaving descendants.
(Art Culture Literature)
185 23-07-2020 - Economy – India-made N-plant achieves criticality – India has declared its first indigenously developed atomic power plant built at the Kakrapar nuclear complex in Gujarat ready to be switched on. PM Narendra Modi described the development as a “shining example” of his vision for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and a “trailblazer for many such future achievements”. Nuclear power accounts for roughly 3-4% of supply though India has 22 nuclear reactors in operation at seven nuclear power plants with a total installed capacity of 6,780 MW. Most of these reactors were based on Candian heavy water technology, followed by Russian designs. Seven more reactors are under construction with a combined generation capacity of 4,300 MW.

(Indian Economy)
186 23-07-2020 - International Relations – As China builds pressure, India goes all out to woo Bhutan – From identifying more border trade points to carrying out a feasibility study for a railway link between the two countries, the government is going all out to thwart China’s attempts to wean Bhutan away from India’s influence. After opening a new trade route last week, India is likely to approve Bhutan’s request for another permanent land customs station (LCS) to facilitate more Bhutan exports to India and Bangladesh. India is also considering opening another integrated check post (ICP). These initiatives are significant as Bhutan dodges attempts by China to establish formal diplomatic relations with India’s only neighbour which is yet to join Beijing’s BRI initiative. The government realises though that Bhutan could still be susceptible because of its border dispute with China which recently saw Beijing making a new territorial claim in Bhutan’s east and close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
(Regional Politics)
187 23-07-2020 - Economy – 15% pay hike for PSU, old pvt bank staff from 2017 – Around nine lakh employees from public sector banks and old private sector banks are in for a bonanza as the Indian Banks’ Association and unions finally agreed to a 15% hike in their salary—a move that will increase the annual wage bill by Rs 7,900 crore. It will also result in an increase in the pension contribution to 14% of basic pay and DA, instead of 10% currently. Besides there is a thrust on the introduction of perfor mance-linked incentive with employees reporting over 5% rise in operating profits eligible to at least five days of basic salary and DA. The amount will be higher for banks that report higher operating profit. The pay hike will be applicable from November 2017, while the pension fund contribution will be increased prospectively.
(Indian Economy)
188 23-07-2020 - Economy – WhatsApp plans pensions, loans – WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose says the company will start multiple pilots in areas like digital lending, micro-insurance and micro-pension. He added WhatsApp will also help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) digitise over the next 18 months, outlining for the first time plans for financial services. While WhatsApp has about 400 million users, it can bring at least 200 million new users to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform as it takes on Alibaba and SoftBank-backed Paytm, Walmart-backed Phonepe and units of Amazon and Google.
(Indian Economy, Science and Technology)
189 23-07-2020 - COVID-19 – US inks nearly $2bn deal for 600m doses of Covid vaccine – The Trump administration has announced a nearly $2 billion contract with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and a smaller German biotechnology company for up to 600 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, with the companies on track to manufacture the first 100 million doses by December. Under the arrangement, the federal government would obtain the first 100 million doses for $1.9 billion, with the rights to acquire up to 500 million more. Americans would receive the vaccine for free. Before it could be distributed, it would first need at least emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
190 23-07-2020 - World – U.S. orders China to close Texas consulate; Beijing may retaliate – In an unprecedented escalation of tensions with China, the Trump administration has ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston within 72 hours (by Friday), with the consequent threat of retaliation from Beijing, possibly with the closure of the US consulate in Wuhan. The state department said the closure was in response to repeated Chinese violations of American sovereignty, including “massive illegal spying”. The shutdown order came hours after President Trump again blamed Beijing for letting loose the coronavirus on the world, calling it the “China virus”. A fire was reported at the Houston consulate as Chinese officials purportedly burned documents and files.
(World Politics)
191 22-07-2020 - People & Personalities – C.S. Seshadri, a leader of Indian mathematics, passes away in Chennai – C.S. Seshadri, one of the leaders of Indian mathematics in the post-Independence era, passed away late on July 17 in Chennai. He was 88. A leader in the field of algebraic geometry, he made breakthroughs that lie at the base of many branches of this profound discipline. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1988 and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, USA in 2010. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2009. 
(People and Personalities)
192 22-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon dies at 85 – Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon passed away in the early hours of Tuesday (July 21) at the age of 85. He played a key role in strengthening the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. He made a mark as an effective administrator, always giving importance to public welfare. In his career spanning five decades, Tandon served in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council for two terms from 1978 to 1984, and 1990-1996; as an MLA in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly for three terms between 1996 to 2009; as MP in the 15th Lok Sabha; and Governor of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
(Governance and Institutions, People and Personalities)
193 22-07-2020 - Defence – India, Russia defence logistics sharing pact likely to be signed by year-end – A formal agreement between India and Russia on defence logistics sharing to enable seamless access to each other's military bases is likely to be signed at the annual summit planned later this year (2020). The Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement will not only simplify interoperability but also enable support to military platforms like warships and aircraft. Under the agreement, warships of both the countries will get access to mutual ports and exclusive economic zones to refuel and pick up supplies. Similarly, the proposed agreement will also enable the Indian Air Force to deploy aircraft for joint exercises.

(Defence and Military)
194 22-07-2020 - Environment & Ecology – Amid Covid, monsoon fury in 8 states leaves 470 dead – In the middle of the pandemic, monsoon has unleashed its fury in eight states, causing over 470 deaths due to floods and landslides, with the highest toll being recorded in West Bengal, Assam and Gujarat. This is the second disaster striking India since March this year, resulting in the deployment of at least 70 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for rescue and relief. In the current monsoon season, West Bengal has reported the highest number of flood related deaths at 142, excluding five missing, followed by Assam (111) and Gujarat (81). The other worst-affected states include Maharashtra with 46 deaths and Madhya Pradesh with 44 deaths.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
195 22-07-2020 - COVID-19 – IRDAI approves group variant of Corona Kavach – The group variant of the COVID-19 specific, short term, standard health policy — Corona Kavach — is likely to be available soon, with insurance regulator IRDAI permitting insurers to offer such a cover. This is expected to be useful to private and public establishments for covering COVID-19 related medical needs of their employees. The standard group policy can provide protection to a large number of employees engaged in manufacturing, services, SMEs, MSMEs, logistics sector, migrant workers. It will “bring peace of mind to them, their family members and the employers”.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
196 22-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – Russia meddled in Scottish vote, unclear on Brexit: UK parliament – Russia meddled in the 2014 Scottish referendum, and the British government failed to ask for a deep assessment of possible Kremlin-directed interference in the Brexit vote. There has been credible open source commentary suggesting that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. The reports said there were open-source indications that Russia sought to influence the Brexit campaign but that the United Kingdom's government had not sought deep evidence of meddling.
(Governance and Institutions)
197 22-07-2020 - Economy – Govt to revamp FTA strategy to ensure economic benefits – The government is recalibrating its strategy on entering into free trade agreements (FTAs) in a bid to ensure that the treaties provide economic and strategic benefits. Separately, the focus is on alliances with “peaceful” countries, especially those with which India does not have a significant trade deficit. There is expected to be greater thrust to FTAs with Australia and the European Union, with the UK and the US among countries with which India will engage more aggressively, while recognising that there is no need to rush into a deal. Off late, Singapore has been a miser in giving out fresh visas, citing domestic issues, while Japan has denied access to Indian nurses, pointing out a lack of language skills. What has also complicated matters is the presence of Chinese companies in Asean countries, which use the benefit of lower tariffs to route goods into India.
(Indian Economy)
198 22-07-2020 - Economy – Close to limited trade deal with U.S., says Piyush Goyal – India and the U.S. have “almost” finalised a limited trade deal. India is seeking concessions for generic drugs it exports to the United States in return for opening its dairy markets and slashing tariffs on farm goods as the two sides seek to clinch a new trade accord. They have been negotiating a limited trade pact aimed also at restoring zero tariffs on a range of Indian exports to the United States under its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), from which the Trump administration withdrew last year, citing lack of reciprocal access to Indian markets. Officials said New Delhi and Washington should look at a preferential trade pact with 50 to 100 products and services before moving to a free trade pact.
(Indian Economy)
199 22-07-2020 - World – EU nations strike €750bn deal to save virus-hit eco – European Union leaders have stepped up to confront one of the gravest challenges in the bloc’s history, agreeing to a landmark spending package to rescue their economies from the ravages of the pandemic. The 750 billion euro ($857 billion) stimulus agreement sent a strong signal of solidarity. The EU’s executive commission predicts the bloc’s economy will shrink by 8.7% this year and rebound by 6.1% next year. The goal of the spending is to support that upswing. The deal was notable for its firsts: Countries will raise large sums by selling bonds collectively, rather than individually; and much of that money will be handed out to member nations hit hardest by the pandemic as grants, not loans. Economists predict a recession in Europe far worse than anything since World War II.
(Healthcare and Medicine, World Economy)
200 22-07-2020 - COVID-19 – 6 lakh Covid cases in July, more than in all past months together – India has recorded more Covid-19 cases in July so far than in all previous months put together. July’s count crossed 6 lakh on Tuesday (July 21), going past the cumulative caseload of 5.9 lakh recorded till June 30. The death toll this month also topped 11,000, accounting for nearly 40% of all fatalities since the pandemic’s outbreak. There were 670 deaths on Tuesday, taking the total to 28,723. India now has the world’s seventh highest Covid toll, having crossed Spain’s count of 28,422 fatalities. The country reported 38,444 new cases, the second highest single-day tally after the 40,000-plus count on Sunday (July 19).
(Healthcare and Medicine)
201 21-07-2020 - Economy – India aims to pare PSU bank count to just five: sources – India is looking to privatise more than half of its state-owned banks to reduce the number of government-owned lenders to just five as part of an overhaul of the banking industry. The first part of the plan would be to sell majority stakes in Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, UCO Bank, Bank of Maharashtra and Punjab & Sind Bank, leading to an effective privatisation of these state-owned lenders. The Centre is working on a privatisation plan to help raise money by selling assets in non-core companies and sectors when the country is strapped for funds due to lack of economic growth caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
(Indian Economy)
202 21-07-2020 - Economy – Mega Food Park in Mizoram to create 5,000 jobs, benefit 25,000 farmers – The Zoram Mega Food Park (MFP) in Mizoram will provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC (Core Processing Centre) and PPC (primary processing Centre) catchment areas. The Park will leverage an additional investment of about Rs 250 Crore in about 30 food processing units in the park and would eventually lead to a turnover of about Rs 450-500 Crores annually.
(Indian Economy)
203 21-07-2020 - Arts & Culture – Sri Lanka to research “Ravana’s aviation routes” – Sri Lanka’s aviation authority has said it will lead a research project to study the mythological character Ravana’s “aviation routes”. The officials have sought any relevant documents and literature from the public, asking them to contact an email ID and phone number to research the topic “King Ravana and the ancient domination of aerial routes now lost”. While Sri Lanka’s tourism sector promotes the ‘Ramayana trail’ for visitors from India — one of Sri Lanka’s largest tourism markets — it is the epic’s antagonist King Ravana that the majority Sinhala-Buddhists hail, like Dravidian party icons in Tamil Nadu, including former CM C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi did.
(Art Culture Literature)
204 21-07-2020 - Economy – Risk of China cyber-attacks, DoT seeks security audit – Following reports of a spike in coordinated cyber-attacks by Chinese hackers, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has written to all web portals and websites within its ambit to conduct a security audit and submit a compliance certificate as soon as possible. Government officials said such attacks have increased multifold since the border clash with Chinese troops on June 15 and the ban on 59 apps linked to China. Most of these attacks are in the nature of DDOS (distributed denial of service), phishing, data exfiltration, remote access tool malware and keylogging (tracking every keystroke made by a user).
(Indian Economy)
205 21-07-2020 - Sports – T20WC officially postponed by ICC – As anticipated, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the International Cricket Council (ICC) to postpone this year’s T20 World Cup that was scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November. The decision, taken after four months of monitoring, was arrived at an ICC board meeting held virtually on Monday (July 20). It also paves the way for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to host this year’s Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The ICC also shifted the dates of the 2023 ODI World Cup in India from February-March to October-November with the final on November 26. This means there could be three consecutive ICC World Cup years, the T20 versions in 2021 and 2022 and the 50-over version in 2023.
(Entertainment Games and Sports, Healthcare and Medicine)
206 21-07-2020 - Polity & Governance – Trump refuses to commit on accepting election results – U.S. President Donald Trump is refusing to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling a similar threat he made weeks before the 2016 vote, as he scoffs at polls showing him lagging behind Democrat Joe Biden. Mr. Trump says it’s too early to make such an ironclad guarantee. The Biden campaign responded: “The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.” Mr. Trump also hammered the Pentagon brass for favouring renaming bases that honour Confederate military leaders — a drive for change spurred by the debate about race after George Floyd’s death.
(World Politics)
207 21-07-2020 - COVID-19 – U.K. vaccine prompts protective immune response in early tests – Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. Scientists said they found that their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months after they were immunised. The results from Oxford were followed by Indian vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute announcing it would seek regulatory approvals for trials in India and “soon start manufacturing the vaccine in large volumes”. Serum Institute has a manufacturing arrangement with British pharma giant AstraZeneca to produce a billion doses.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
208 21-07-2020 - Internal Security – In signal to China, US & India conduct joint naval exercise – In a strong strategic signal to China amid the military confrontation in eastern Ladakh, a US carrier strike group led by aircraft carrier USS Nimitz conducted a “cooperative” exercise with Indian warships in the Indian Ocean on Monday (July 20). The message was further amplified by a hard-nosed display of military intent by India, which has now deployed around 10 Jaguar maritime strike fighters armed with deadly anti-ship Harpoon missiles at its Car Nicobar airbase in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. The import of Monday’s exercise between the Indian and US navies, which have steadily built “interoperability” through the annual topnotch Malabar war games and other exchanges over the years, will not be lost on China and will be a card that India will seek to leverage.
(Defence and Military)
209 21-07-2020 - Science & Technology – Arab ‘Hope’ to Mars takes off from Japan – The first Arab space mission to Mars, an unmanned probe dubbed “Hope”, blasted off from Japan on Monday (July 20) on a mission to reveal more about the atmosphere of the Red Planet. The launch of the probe, known as “Al-Amal” in Arabic, had twice been delayed because of bad weather, but the Monday lift-off appeared smooth and successful. Only the United States, India, the former Soviet Union, and the European Space Agency have successfully sent missions to orbit the fourth planet from the sun, while China is preparing to launch its first Mars rover later this month.
(Science and Technology)
210 21-07-2020 - World – U.K. to suspend extradition treaty with Hong Kong – Britain has announced it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in an escalation of a dispute with China over its introduction of a national security law for the former British colony. The treaty would be suspended immediately and an arms embargo would be extended to Hong Kong. The ban is another nail in the coffin of what then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015 cast as a “golden era” of ties with China, the world’s second-largest economy. London has been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, and the perception that China did not tell the whole truth over the COVID-19 outbreak.
(Treaties and Protocols)
211 20-07-2020 - Economy – Indian Railways to start private train services by 2023, all 151 by 2027 – The first set of 12 private trains will be introduced in 2023, followed by 45 more in the next fiscal, according to an initial timeline drawn by the railways which plans to roll out all 151 such train services by 2027. The project would entail a private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore. The railways has said that 70 per cent of the private trains will be manufactured in India which will be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph. 
(Indian Economy)
212 20-07-2020 - Economy – Govt sets up single-window clearance to expedite aviation sector proposals – The civil aviation ministry has set up a single-window clearance mechanism to expedite various investment proposals in the domestic aviation industry. MoCA (Ministry of Civil Aviation) has an Investment Clearance Cell (ICC) for prompt assistance and clearance. The ICC has been mandated to serve as a single-window system for attracting investment and its terms of reference include accelerating investments, bringing projects to the Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) which require special incentive, policy interventions, expeditious clearances and systematic references, among others.
(Indian Economy)
213 20-07-2020 - Technology – WhatsApp case against spyware company NSO to go forward, court says – WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, filed a complaint against NSO Group in October 2019. WhatsApp accused NSO Group of sending malware to 1,400 users of the messaging app. The malware was sent on the mobile devices which belonged to journalists, politicians and human rights activists among others. NSO Group is an Israeli mobile surveillance software company. NSO Group made an attempt to dismiss the lawsuit filed by WhatsApp but the US court denied. WhatsApp and Facebook also claim that NSO developed a data program called Pegasus. The program collects information such as messages, browser history and contacts from the users' phones.
(Science and Technology)
214 20-07-2020 - Famous personalities – The US loses two icons of the civil rights movement in one day – Two towering figures of the American civil rights movement died Friday (July 17), a major loss for a nation still grappling with protests and demands for racial equality decades later. John Robert Lewis died at age 80 after a battle with cancer. Rev. Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian died at age 95 of natural causes. They worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the forefront of the historic struggle for racial justices in the 1960s. After years of arrests, confrontations and unyielding demands for justice, they received the highest civilian honor from the nation's first Black President.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
215 20-07-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Flood-hit Assam braces for more rains, toll touches 85 – Five more people died in the last 24 hours as floods continued to wreak havoc in Assam on Sunday (July 19), taking the state’s toll in the deluge to 85. The deaths were reported from Barpeta, Baksa, Dhubri, Morigaon and Nagaon. Even as 24 districts continue to remain affected by the disaster, the number of affected people on Sunday came down from 27.63 lakh to 25.2 lakh from a day earlier, when 26 districts were hit by the deluge. Over 50,000 people are taking shelter at 301 government-run relief camps. The flood situation remains unchanged with several embankments breached due to incessant rainfall, release of water from Bhutan’s and other state’s dams and overflowing of rivers inundating fresh areas.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
216 20-07-2020 - Arts and Culture – COVID-19 delays PMs’ museum work – Construction of the Centre’s proposed Museum on Prime Ministers, which was supposed to open in October, is likely to be completed by November due to the lack of workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The museum is being developed at the Teen Murti Estate that houses the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD). Last year, the CPWD had set March 2020 as the deadline for the project. The official said the CPWD was hoping to hand over the completed building to the NMML by November, after which it would take a few months’ time for putting up the exhibits on all Prime Ministers.
(Art Culture Literature)
217 20-07-2020 - Research/Study – Previously unknown faults at the foot of the Himalaya discovered – Data from an oil and gas exploration company has helped geologists discover a series of faults at the foot of the Himalaya. The international team notes that this fault system in the south eastern region of Nepal has the potential to cause earthquakes in the country. The team looked at seismic reflection data, routinely collected by exploration companies looking for oil and gas. In this method, seismic waves are produced by small explosions at multiple sources, and many recorders called geophones record the sound echoing off layers beneath the surface.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
218 20-07-2020 - Research/Study – Study finds evidence of vertical transmission of coronavirus across the placenta – Transmission through droplets and contact with contaminated surfaces seem to be the major routes of novel coronavirus spread. The World Health Organization recently acknowledged that “short-range aerosol transmission” of the virus “cannot be ruled out” in specific indoor locations which are crowded, inadequately ventilated and where exposure to the infected person is over a prolonged period of time. Now, a study has found evidence that confirms vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus from the mother to the foetus. The route of infection is through the womb (in utero) well before the onset of labour and delivery of the baby.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
219 20-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Coronavirus rebounds around the world, deaths top 600,000 – The coronavirus pandemic has found fresh legs around the world, as confirmed deaths pass 600,000 and countries from the US to South Africa struggle to contain a surge of new infections. Hong Kong issued tougher new rules on wearing face masks, Spain closed overcrowded beaches and Germany reported another outbreak at a slaughterhouse. The WHO said that 259,848 new infections were reported on Saturday (July 18), its highest one day tally yet. Confirmed global deaths have risen to nearly 603,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins. The US tops the list with over 140,000, followed by more than 78,000 in Brazil. The number of confirmed infections worldwide has passed 14.2 million, with 3.7 million in the US and more than 2 million in Brazil.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
220 20-07-2020 - COVID-19 – In a first, India’s Covid fatality rate dips below 2.5%: Centre – India’s Covid-19 fatality rate is “progressively falling” and is now below 2.5% for the first time. The health ministry said that efficient clinical management of hospitalised patients and contact tracing had helped keep the death rate at one of the lowest in the world. Currently, India’s case fatality rate (CFR) is at 2.49%. On June 2, India had recorded a fatality rate of 2.82% with 1.98 lakh confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 5,598 deaths. On July 10, the fatality rate declined to 2.72% even as total infections jumped to over 7.93 lakh cases and death toll increased to 21,604. However, recoveries too have increased alongside cases and deaths, helping bring down the death rate to 2.49%.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
221 18-07-2020 - Internal security – In signal to China, Navy runs major exercise off Andamans – The Indian Navy is conducting a major exercise off the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, in a clear display of strategic intent against China amid the ongoing military confrontation along the border in eastern Ladakh. The Indian naval manoeuvres come at a time when two American super aircraft carriers, USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, are conducting rare dual combat drills in the South China Sea, much to China’s chagrin. The exercise is being conducted with warships and aircraft from Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) and Eastern Naval Command (ENC). 
(Defence and Military)
222 18-07-2020 - World – Security agencies can’t have unfettered access to online data: German court – Germany’s highest court has said security services had too much unfettered access to people’s online data and ordered legislation to be revised to set higher hurdles. German intelligence services and police agencies currently have the right to ask telecom and Internet companies for user info ranging from names and birth dates to passwords and IP addresses, to help their investigations. But the Court agreed with complaints brought by privacy activists that the access to data was excessive and an unconstitutional violation of citizens’ right to telecoms privacy. In their ruling, judges said the current powers to retrieve data were “disproportionate”.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
223 18-07-2020 - World – Hong Kong demands Taiwan officials sign ‘one China’ document – Taiwanese officials in Hong Kong have been told their visas will not be renewed unless they sign a document supporting Beijing’s claim to Taiwan under its “one China” policy. The move comes after Taipei criticised a new security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing, and opened an office in Taipei this month to help people who may want to leave the Asian financial centre. The official said the move was unprecedented and presented an “unnecessary political obstacle” for Taipei-Hong Kong ties.
(Treaties and Protocols)
224 18-07-2020 - Business – Roshni Nadar: The first woman chairperson of an Indian IT company – Roshni Nadar Malhotra, India's wealthiest woman, is now the chairperson of HCL Technologies. She replaced her father Shiv Nadar on July 17 as the chairperson of the $9.9-billion HCL, the company by Shiv Nadar founded in 1976. Nadar-Malhotra has become the first woman chairperson of an Indian IT services company. Aside from being the richest India woman, Roshni Nadar was ranked 54 on the 2019 Forbes World's 100 Most Powerful Women list. In the same year, IIFL Wealth Hurun rankings estimated her wealth at Rs 36,800 crore. HCL is today the third largest in the industry, after TCS and Infosys, and has been among the fastest growing for many years now.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
225 18-07-2020 - Terrorism – UN blacklists Pak. Taliban leader Noor Wali Mehsud – The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terror group’s leader Noor Wali Mehsud has been designated as a global terrorist by the UN for participating in the financing, planning and perpetrating acts on behalf of and in support of entities associated with al-Qaeda. The UN Security Council’s 1267 ISIL and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee added Mehsud, 42, to the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda Sanctions List on July 16, subjecting the Pakistani national to an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo. In June 2018, Mehsud was named the leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, following the death of former TTP leader Maulana Fazlullah. The TTP was blacklisted by the UN on July 29, 2011 for its association with al-Qaeda. Under Noor Wali’s leadership, TTP has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly terrorist attacks across Pakistan, including an attack targeting Pakistani security forces in North Waziristan in July 2019 and a bomb attack against Pakistani soldiers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in August 2019.
(Terrorism)
226 18-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Human trials for Covaxin begin – Three volunteers were administered Covaxin, India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) in Rohtak on Friday (July 17) as part of the first phase of human trials. The vaccine, developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology, didn’t induce any initial adverse effects. The vaccine has been tested successfully on animals. The entire process might take six months and the final assessment on safety and the level of production of antibodies would be made by a safety board.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
227 18-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Less than 2% COVID-19 patients in ICU – The Union Health Ministry said that less than 1% COVID-19 patients in the country are on ventilator support, less than 2% cases in ICUs, and less than 3% on oxygen beds. It said the actual case load in the country is 3.42 lakh, with more than 6.35 lakh people recovering from the disease. The Health Ministry has also deployed a team to Bihar to review the situation in the State, which is witnessing a rising trend in COVID-19 cases.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
228 18-07-2020 - Economy – India set to create its first overseas oil stockpile in US – India is moving to store oil in the US, the first time world’s third-largest oil guzzler is creating an emergency reserve abroad to take advantage of low prices and guard against possible supply disruptions. The move comes amid India’s deadly border stand-off with China in Ladakh and signals of New Delhi and Washington deepening their strategic bonding beyond defence. The US has emerged as India’s 6th largest oil supplier since the first US crude shipment reached Paradip in Odisha in October, 2017.
(Indian Economy)
229 18-07-2020 - COVID-19 – U.S. breaks record for new coronavirus cases with over 77,000 in one day – America's coronavirus crisis has taken a turn for the worse. More than 77,000 new cases were reported on Thursday (July 16), beating the old single-day record by nearly 10,000. The daily death toll is more than 900, including a record 156 in Florida. Meanwhile, the national debate over wearing masks is intensifying as large parts of the economy remain at a standstill. As of Friday morning, the US accounted for the world's highest number of infections and fatalities at 3,570,037 and 138,291, respectively.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
230 18-07-2020 - Economy – ‘India got 273m out of poverty in 10 yrs’ – India had the biggest reduction in the number of multidimensionally poor people estimated at over 270 million during the 2005-15 period. The data, released by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), showed 65 of 75 countries studied significantly reduced their poverty levels between 2000 and 2019. Four countries —Armenia (2010–2015 /2016), India (2005/2006–2015/ 2016), Nicaragua (2001–2011/2012) and North Macedonia (2005/2006–2011) halved their global MPIT value and did so in 5.5–10.5 years. These countries show what is possible for countries with very different initial poverty levels. They account for roughly a fifth of world’s population, mostly because of India, the report said. The multidimensional index is a measure that looks beyond income to include access to safe water, education, electricity, food and six other indicators. But the impact of Covid-19 may slow down efforts to reduce multidimensional poverty.
(Indian Economy)
231 17-07-2020 - Economy – China first major eco to see growth since Covid – China has become the first major economy to return to growth since the coronavirus started sweeping across the world earlier this year. China’s GDP expanded 3.2% in the three months to June from a year ago, reversing a 6.8% decline in the first quarter and beating the median forecast of 2.4%. In the first half however, output is still down 1.6% compared to the same period in 2019. Having shut its economy in the first quarter to arrest the virus spread and managed so far to largely defeat subsequent outbreaks, China is claiming global leadership in dealing with the deadly disease. 
(Indian Economy)
232 17-07-2020 - World – EU court scraps US data-sharing agreement over ‘snooping’ woes – Europe’s top court has struck down a trans-atlantic agreement that allows scores of companies to move data between the European Union and the US, causing uncertainty for businesses who rely on moving digital information seamlessly around the world. The court ruled that the agreement, known as Privacy Shield, did not comply with European privacy rights. Privacy Shield, created in 2016, allows businesses in the EU and the US to move data more easily between the two regions. More than 5,000 firms use the system.
(Treaties and Protocols)
233 17-07-2020 - Economy – ‘Plasma donors in Assam may get preference in jobs’ – Plasma donors in Assam may get preference in jobs and government schemes as a gesture for helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Donating plasma can also entail extra marks in interviews besides acknowledgement. Similarly, the name of someone at the bottom of the beneficiary list for PMAY [Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana] will be put on top if that person is a plasma donor.
(Healthcare and Medicine, Indian Economy)
234 17-07-2020 - International relations – Iran had gone silent on rail project: India – The Government of India says it had not received any response from Iran since December 2019 on the future of the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project that the state-owned railway construction company IRCON was to have constructed and financed. The ONGC’s foreign arm OVL is also out of the Farzad-B gas field exploration project. The government cited policy changes by the Iranian government, Iran’s precarious finances, and the U.S. sanctions situation as the reasons for the decisions on Indian infrastructure projects in Iran, which would both be undertaken through local companies instead. Last week, Iranian Railways and its transport department inaugurated laying of track for the 628-km stretch from the southern port city of Chabahar to Zahedan on the border with Afghanistan. The track would now be funded by Iran’s own National Development fund.
(Governance and Institutions, Infrastructure)
235 17-07-2020 - World – Twitter hack targets high-profile users – Twitter is investigating a massive hack in which high- profile users from Elon Musk to Joe Biden had their accounts hijacked by scammers. Posts trying to dupe people into sending hackers the virtual currency Bitcoin were tweeted by the official accounts of Apple, Uber, Kanye West, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and many others on July 15. The posts said people had 30 minutes to send $1,000 in the cryptocurrency, promising double returns. A total of 12.58 bitcoins — worth almost $116,000 — were sent to e-mail addresses mentioned in the tweets.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
236 17-07-2020 - Polity and governance – No postal ballot facility for voters above 65: EC – The Election Commission has said the postal ballot facility for electors above the age of 65 in the Bihar Assembly elections, which would have been the first time it would have been used since the Centre had notified it on June 19, would not be implemented. The EC said the decision was taken for the Assembly elections and bypolls due soon due to logistical challenges. It had instructed Bihar authorities to limit the number of electors to 1,000 per polling station due to the pandemic, for which 34,000 additional stations are being set up. The option of postal ballots would be available to electors over 80 years of age, persons with disabilities, essential service workers and those infected with COVID-19 or suspected to be.
(Governance and Institutions)
237 17-07-2020 - Internal security – Disengagement process intricate: Army – The disengagement process on the border to resolve the tensions is “intricate and requires constant verification”, and both India and China remained committed to the objective of complete disengagement. Officials said both sides had agreed “at specific points to redeploy towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the Line of Actual Control [LAC]”, which it said were mutually agreed reciprocal actions to be taken by both sides and there was absolutely “no change” with respect to India’s position on the LAC.
(Defence and Military)
238 17-07-2020 - World – Russia accused of trying to steal vaccine data – Britain, the U.S. and Canada have accused Russia of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a COVID-19 vaccine. The three nations alleged that hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear and said to be part of the Russian intelligence service, is attacking academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in vaccine development. Britain’s National Cybersecurity Centre made the announcement, which was coordinated with authorities in the U.S. and Canada. Cozy Bear has been identified by Washington as one of two Russian government-linked hacking groups that broke into the Democratic National Committee computer network and stole emails ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
239 17-07-2020 - Society – India registers a steep decline in maternal mortality ratio – The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in India has declined to 113 in 2016-18 from 122 in 2015-17 and 130 in 2014-2016. One of the key indicators of maternal mortality is the MMR, defined as the number of maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births. The target 3.1 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations aims to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 1,00,000 live births. As per the WHO, maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management. The MMR of various States includes Assam (215), Bihar (149), Madhya Pradesh (173), Chhattisgarh (159), Odisha (150), Rajasthan (164), UP (197) and Uttarakhand (99). The southern States registered a lower MMR — Andhra Pradesh (65), Telangana (63), Karnataka (92), Kerala (43) and TN (60).
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
240 17-07-2020 - COVID-19 – India surges past 1m cases with record one-day spike – India has recorded over 1 million Covid-19 cases and 25,000 deaths from Coronavirus, crossing the twin milestones on Thursday (July 16) amid a massive surge in the pandemic. The country added over 36,000 new cases and 684 deaths during the day, both by far the highest in a single day. India is the third country, after the US and Brazil, to log one million cases and the eighth to register over 25,000 deaths. India’s caseload has risen from 8 lakh to 10 lakh (1 million) in just six days, as compared with nine days while moving from 6 lakh to 8 lakh and 11 for the previous 2 lakh cases. Likewise, the death toll has risen from 20,000 to 25,000 in just 10 days.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
241 16-07-2020 - Economy – Jio offers 5G tech, to develop cheap smartphone with Google – Reliance Industries Ltd.’s Jio Platforms unit has developed a 5G technology which will be deployed in India next year. To aid mass adoption of the technology and to enable millions of 2G feature phone users to graduate to smartphones, Jio and Google would partner to develop an entry level 4G or even 5G smartphone with Android operating system. Google also announced that it had agreed to invest ₹33,737 crore to acquire a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms. 
(Indian Economy)
242 16-07-2020 - Economy – India & EU to work on free trade agreement – A high level trade and investment dialogue between India and the European Union, set up after the first virtual India-EU summit on July 15, is expected to move to a broad-based free trade agreement that has held out promise but has been stalled for the past seven years. The convergence on economic initiatives was significant in the context of sluggish world growth in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and India and EU seeing the need for a closer embrace that includes shared strategic goals. India and the EU agreed to enhance convergences to ensure a “high level of protection of personal data and privacy, including through possible data adequacy decisions, with a view to facilitating safe and secure cross-border data flows between them”. The reference is important in view of concerns over China’s state-sponsored data theft. The two sides also decided to engage on 5G and AI to foster “their safe and ethical deployment”.
(Indian Economy)
243 16-07-2020 - Economy – Fight against hunger disrupted by slowdown – Between 8.3 crore and 13 crore people globally are likely to go hungry this year due to the economic recession triggered by COVID-19, warns the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 report. Estimates drawn from data available till March 2020 show that almost 69 crore people went hungry in 2019 — up by 1 crore in 2018. The world is not on track to meet the goal of zero hunger by 2030.
(Indian Economy)
244 16-07-2020 - Research/Study – India’s population may peak by 2047 – At the current rate of growth, India's population is likely to peak by 2047 at about 1.61 billion and then decline to 1.03 billion by 2100. However, were it to meet UN Sustainable Goal Development targets, the peak would be earlier and see a population decline to 929 million. Conventional wisdom is that though a decline in population is expected, it is expected to begin only around 2046 and that fall is expected to see India’s population settle at a little over 1.4 billion, though this too ranges from 2.1-0.9 billion. The sharper fall is due to the assumption that all women globally will have much higher access to contraception and education.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
245 16-07-2020 - Defence – Govt. nod for urgent defence procurements – The Defence Ministry has once again given emergency powers to the armed forces to procure weapons systems at costs up to ₹300 crore on an urgent basis, without any further clearances, to cut short the procurement cycle, the Defence Ministry said. Similar powers were given to the services after the Balakot air strike in February 2019. The decision was taken considering the security environment due to the situation along the northern borders and the need to strengthen the armed forces. The Army has already taken a decision to place repeat orders for 72,400 SIG-716 assault rifles from Sig Sauer of the U.S. and 12 launchers and around 250 missiles of the Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) from Israel.
(Defence and Military)
246 16-07-2020 - COVID-19 – COVID-19 vaccine shows early promise – An experimental coronavirus vaccine made by the biotech company Moderna provoked a promising immune response against the virus and appeared safe in the first 45 people who received it. Moderna’s vaccine, developed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in humans, and the company has announced that large Phase 3 tests of it would begin on July 27, involving 30,000 people. Half of the participants will be a control group who will receive placebos.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
247 16-07-2020 - Economy – India records trade surplus after 18 years – India’s exports fell for the fourth straight month in June as shipments of key segments like petroleum and textiles declined but the country’s trade turned surplus for the first time in 18 years as imports dropped by a steeper 47.6%. Exports in value terms declined by 12.4% to $21.9 billion in June on weak global demand due to Covid-19. The outward shipments in June, however, recovered from a steeper decline of 60.3% in April and 36.5% in May. Imports also plunged for the fourth month in a row by 47.6% to $21.1 billion in June, leaving a trade surplus of $0.8 billion. It was in January 2002 when India last posted a trade surplus of $10 million.
(Indian Economy)
248 16-07-2020 - World – Trump ends HK’s special trade status, backs sanctions – U.S. President Donald Trump has stripped Hong Kong of preferential trade treatment and authorised sanctions on banks over China’s clampdown in the financial hub, infuriating Beijing that vowed to retaliate. Mr. Trump declared himself to be the toughest President ever on China, a country he is increasingly positioning as his nemesis ahead of the November elections. Mr. Trump announced that he had issued an executive order on Hong Kong as he predicted decline for the restless city, on which Beijing recently imposed a tough new security law.
(Treaties and Protocols)
249 16-07-2020 - World – U.S. govt. rescinds restrictive rule on international students – The U.S. government has rescinded its policy that foreign (F-1 and M-1 visa categories) students taking all their courses online would have to depart the country. This order, issued on July 6 by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), encountered strong opposition from voices in academia, industry and politics after it left many of the more than 1 million foreign students in the U.S in a precarious situation. It is, however, unclear what the status of students waiting abroad is and whether they will get visas in time for the fall semester given the U.S. missions abroad are not functioning at full capacity.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
250 16-07-2020 - COVID-19 – India hits highest one-day count of over 32k cases & 615 fatalities – India recorded its highest single-day peaks in Covid-19 deaths and fresh cases on Wednesday (July 15) even as the number of recovered patients crossed the six lakh mark. With a huge surge in daily cases in the last fortnight, the country’s caseload as well as addition to active cases in the first 15 days of July is close to the corresponding figures for the entire month of June. The country breached the 32,000 mark for the first time, with 32,498 infections on Wednesday taking the caseload to 9,68,835. India also recorded its highest daily casualty figure of 615— discounting the 2,003 backdated deaths reported on June 16—taking the cumulative toll closer to the 25,000 mark at 24,860.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
251 15-07-2020 - Economy – In 14 days, Mumbai nears 100% of July rain target – The city nudged closer to its 100% required rain mark for July with heavy rainfall in several parts of Mumbai and adjoining areas like Thane and Navi Mumbai on Tuesday (July 14). While the required rains for July are 840.7mm, till Tuesday evening, officials reported 822 mm rainfall, which is almost 97.7 %. Meanwhile the city has also received over 50% of its required season’s rainfall. While the required rain mark is 2,260.4 mm, the city had logged 1,217mm (53.84%) till Tuesday. The IMD had already issued a yellow alert for Tuesday for parts of Mumbai, Thane and Palghar forecasting heavy rains at isolated places. Weathermen expect rain intensity to pick up on Wednesday. An orange alert has been issued forecasting heavy to very heavy rains at a few places. 
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change, Indian Economy)
252 15-07-2020 - World – First federal execution in U.S. in 17 years – The U.S. carried out its first federal execution in 17 years on July 14, putting to death convicted murderer Daniel Lee over objections by his victims’ relatives after the Supreme Court gave its go-ahead. Lee was convicted for his role in the killing of three members of an Arkansas family in 1996. His accomplice, Chevie Kehoe, is serving life term.
(Social Issues, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
253 15-07-2020 - Polity and Governance – Parliament project: seven firms bid to pre-qualify – Seven construction companies, including an Uttar Pradesh government undertaking, have submitted bids for pre-qualification for the contract to build a new Parliament building. According to the CPWD’s online tender portal, the bids received were from ITD Cementation India Limited, Larsen and Toubro Ltd., NCC Ltd., PSP Projects Ltd., Shapoorji Pallonji and Co Ltd., Tata Projects Ltd. and Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam Ltd. Between them, the bidders have constructed Metro rail projects, ports, stadia, industrial complexes among others in the past.
(Governance and Institutions, Infrastructure)
254 15-07-2020 - Education – Centre limits duration of online school sessions – Schools can hold live online classes for a maximum of 1.5 hours per day for Classes 1-8, and three hours per day for Classes 9-12, according to the Pragyata guidelines for digital education. For kindergarten, nursery and preschool, the guidelines don’t recommend any screen time for children; they only recommend that teachers spend a maximum of 30 minutes per day to interact with parents and guide them. These guidelines, prepared by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), are only advisory in nature, and State governments have been asked to build on them and formulate their own rules, based on local needs.
(Education)
255 15-07-2020 - Economy – UK to exclude Huawei from role in high-speed phone network – Britain’s government has backtracked on plans to give Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a limited role in the UK’s new high-speed mobile phone network in a decision with broad implications for relations between London and Beijing. Britain imposed the ban after the US threatened to sever an intelligence-sharing arrangement because of concerns Huawei equipment could allow the Chinese government to infiltrate UK networks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under pressure from rebels in his own Conservative Party who criticized China’s new Hong Kong security law and its treatment of ethnic Uighurs, as well as Huawei’s links to the Chinese government.
(Indian Economy)
256 15-07-2020 - Society – ‘No. of undernourished in India down by 60m’ – The number of undernourished people in India has declined by 60 million, from 21.7% of the population in 2004-06 to 14% in 2017-19, according to a UN report. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report said there were less stunted children but more obese adults in India. The report — considered the most authoritative global study tracking progress towards ending hunger and malnutrition — said the number of undernourished people in India declined from 249.4 million in 2004-06 to 189.2 million in 2017–19. The two subregions showing reductions in undernourishment — eastern and southern Asia — are dominated by the two largest economies of the continent — China and India.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
257 15-07-2020 - World – U.S. rejects Beijing’s claims in S. China Sea – The United States has said that it would treat Beijing’s pursuit of resources in the dispute-rife South China Sea as illegal, ramping up support for Southeast Asian nations and triggering a furious response from Beijing. It was the latest forceful statement by President Donald Trump’s administration to challenge China, which he has increasingly cast as an enemy ahead of the November elections. The United States has long rejected Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, which is both home to valuable oil and gas deposits and is a vital waterway for the world’s commerce. The US said, “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.”
(World Politics)
258 15-07-2020 - International relations – EU, India to meet on resuming FTA negotiations – Seven years after talks on a free trade agreement were suspended, India and the European Union (EU) are set to agree on a “high-level dialogue on trade and investment” to restart negotiations. The announcement is expected at a virtual EU-India Summit. During this summit, India and the EU are expected to conclude several agreements including a roadmap for cooperation, an agreement on research sharing for civil nuclear cooperation and launch a maritime security dialogue as well as negotiations between Europol and the CBI. According to officials, tackling COVID-19 and its impact on the economy and the global order will be high on the agenda.
(Treaties and Protocols)
259 15-07-2020 - COVID-19 – India records 30k+ cases in a day, toll crosses 24k – The Covid-19 pandemic worsened in the country as fresh cases on Tuesday zoomed past the 30,000 mark for the first time even as total deaths crossed 24,000, with the second-highest single-day addition of 582 fatalities. On Sunday and Monday, India’s daily cases were the second highest in the world after the US, having overtaken Brazil’s tally. The national caseload stands at 9,36,994. In another record of sorts, as many as 10 states reported more than 1,000 fresh infections each on Tuesday. The day’s fatality count, at 582, was the second-highest since 608 reported on July 4 (discounting the back-dated deaths numbering 2,003 reported on June 16).
(Healthcare and Medicine)
260 15-07-2020 - Polity and Governance– Congress ejects Pilot as dy CM, PCC chief amid Raj turbulence – The bitter feud between Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his challenger Sachin Pilot reached the point of no return with Congress on sacking the latter as deputy CM and state party chief, accusing him of working at the instance of BJP to topple the state government. Four Pilot loyalists, two of them cabinet ministers, were also sacked. The development was not a surprise as efforts by the Congress brass to get Pilot to withdraw his rebellion failed even as his supporters upped the ante by demanding a change of leadership.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Politics)
261 14-07-2020 - Research/study – Antibody immunity to Covid-19 may be short-lived: UK study – Patients who recover from the novel coronavirus may have an antibody response that makes them immune to the deadly virus only for a few months. Research found levels of antibodies that can destroy the virus peaked about three weeks after the onset of symptoms then started declining. The immune system has multiple ways to fight the coronavirus but if antibodies are the main line of defence, the findings suggest people could become reinfected in seasonal waves just like the common cold and other kinds of flu.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
262 14-07-2020 - World – Taliban Stage a Major Attack, as Violence Intensifies in Northern Afghanistan – Insurgents bombed the entrance of an Afghan intelligence complex in a provincial capital, then stormed the offices in a sustained gun battle, killing at least 11. President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in Samangan and accused the Taliban of trying to strengthen their hand before any negotiations. There has been a surge in violence across the country in recent weeks following a disagreement between the government and the Taliban group about the release of prisoners. As per a February deal between the US and the Taliban, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners are to be released in advance of intra-Afghan talks, along with up to 1,000 government prisoners.
(Terrorism)
263 14-07-2020 - World – China hits U.S. lawmakers, envoy with sanctions over Xinjiang – China has slapped retaliatory sanctions on three senior Republican lawmakers and a U.S. envoy in a deepening row over Beijing’s treatment of Uighurs in the western Xinjiang region. It asks Washington to ‘stop any words and actions that interfere in its internal affairs’. The unspecified “corresponding sanctions” were announced days after the U.S. imposed visa bans and asset freezes on several Chinese officials, including the Communist Party chief in Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, over rights abuses in the region.
(World Politics)
264 14-07-2020 - World – Polish president Duda narrowly wins re-election, enabling the continuation of a far-right agenda – Poland's right-wing president, Andrzej Duda, won a second term by a razor-thin margin in results announced Monday, paving the way for Warsaw to continue a political program that human rights advocates and other European leaders have criticized as undermining democracy. Duda — an ally of President Trump — won 51 percent of the vote in Sunday's runoff election. Centrist Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski trailed with 49 percent.
(People and Personalities, World Politics)
265 14-07-2020 - Defence – Aircraft carriers to get Indian jets by 2032 – The Navy is expected to start receiving new twin-engine aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) by 2032 and it will be a replacement for the Russian MiG-29K carrier jets in service. The Navy currently operates Russian-origin carrier INS Vikramaditya and expects to have the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-I) Vikrant operational by 2022. With a second carrier to come in, the Navy is already evaluating a global tender for 57 carrier-based twin-engine fighter aircraft.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
266 14-07-2020 - World – Iran, China set to clinch 25-year deal – Iran and China are close to finalising a 25-year Strategic Partnership which will include Chinese involvement in Chabahar’s duty-free zone, an oil refinery nearby, and possibly a larger role in Chabahar port as well. According to leaked versions of the 18-page “Comprehensive Plan for Cooperation between Iran and China”, being finalised by officials in Tehran and Beijing, the cooperation will extend from investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and upgrading energy and transport facilities, to refurbishing ports, refineries and other installations, and will commit Iranian oil and gas supplies to China during that period.
(Treaties and Protocols)
267 14-07-2020 - Internal security – India faces jt Pak-China threat in Indian Ocean – The collusive China-Pakistan threat along the land borders is slowly extending to the maritime domain as well. Even as China steps up its naval forays into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), it is also helping Pakistan build its maritime combat power in the overall attempt to stymie India in its own backyard. China is following a twin-pronged approach by facilitating Pakistan to build its Navy while hunting for more overseas bases to offset its “tyranny of logistics” in the IOR as compared to India, say officials.
(Defence and Military)
268 14-07-2020 - COVID-19 – India’s Covid count tops 9 lakh; 28,648 cases, 538 deaths on Monday – India’s Covid-19 caseload zoomed past the 9 lakh mark, just three days after crossing 8 lakh, as the new week began with the addition of over 28,600 cases and 538 deaths. The past week saw the biggest rise in both cases and deaths from the virus in the country, discounting the third week of June when 2,003 deaths, mostly back-dated, were added in a single day. Over 1.83 lakh cases and 3,466 deaths were recorded between July 6 and 12, at a daily average of over 26,100 cases and 495 deaths. On Monday, 28,648 new cases emerged, taking the total to 9,07,041, as per data collated from states. India’s Covid-19 toll rose to 23,695. While over 5.7 lakh patients have so far recovered, there are 3.12 lakh active cases.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
269 14-07-2020 - International relations – Iran drops India from Chabahar rail project, cites funding delay – Four years after India and Iran signed an agreement to construct a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan, the Iranian government has decided to proceed with the construction on its own, citing delays from the Indian side in funding and starting the project. The development comes as China finalises a massive 25-year, $400 billion strategic partnership deal with Iran, which could cloud India’s plans. The railway project, which was being discussed between the Iranian Railways and the state-owned Indian Railways Construction Ltd (IRCON), was meant to be part of India’s commitment to the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan to build an alternate trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
(Treaties and Protocols)
270 14-07-2020 - Economy – Will invest $10 billion in India, says Google chief – Technology giant Google will invest $10 billion (₹75,000 crore) in India over the next five to seven years with a focus on digitising the economy and building India-first products and services. Investments will focus on four areas key to digitisation — enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, building products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs, empowering businesses on their digital transformation journey, and leveraging technology and AI for social good in areas such as health, education and agriculture.
(Indian Economy)
271 13-07-2020 - World – Hong Kong Opposition holds primary vote – Pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong held primary polls on Saturday to choose candidates for upcoming legislative elections despite warnings from government officials that it may be in breach of a new security law imposed by China. Beijing has imposed the new law on Hong Kong targeting acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, in response to democracy protests that erupted last year. The law is the most radical change in Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy since Britain handed the city back to China in 1997. 
(World Politics)
272 13-07-2020 - Economy – Ficci survey estimates FY21 GDP growth to be in negative territory – Industry body FICCI's latest Economic Outlook Survey has pegged India's growth for 2020-21 at (-) 4.5 per cent as the country continues to see a gradual rise in financial stress. Data shows that while overall growth estimates stand at -4.5 per cent, the GDP estimated for the first quarter of the year is abysmal at (-) 14.2 per cent. FICCI puts India's minimum growth estimate at (-) 6.4% and maximum growth at 1.5% for the year 2020-21.
(Indian Economy)
273 13-07-2020 - Society – World Population Day 2020: Focus On "Health, Rights of Women and Girls" – World Population Day 2020 focuses on multiple challenges - health, economic and social - that people across the world are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Nations Development Programme recommended the introduction of World Population Day in 1989, inspired by the public interest and awareness that was created by "Five Billion Day" on July 11, 1987 when the world's population reached 5 billion. "How to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now" amid the pandemic is the theme of this year's World Population Day.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
274 13-07-2020 - Economy – To wean business away from China, eased FDI norms likely – With an eye to attract more investment and boost domestic economic activity, the Centre is eyeing further easing of foreign direct investment rules, in addition to pushing reforms in mining, banking and capital market sectors. The focus has intensified after the tension with China on the Ladakh border as the government is keen to bolster domestic manufacturing. Sources said the FDI reforms could be announced over the next few weeks.
(Indian Economy)
275 13-07-2020 - COVID-19 – Exhaled breath of COVID-19 patients can contain novel coronavirus, study finds – Not just talking, singing or shouting, as the WHO indicated on July 9, but even breathing may spread novel coronavirus into the air. A study published in Nature had earlier found airborne coronavirus in a patient’s breath. A couple of more studies found airborne transmission of the virus during breathing and speaking. A new study posted on July 2 in preprint server MedRxiv has again found virus spread while breathing.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
276 13-07-2020 - Internal security – Desi AKs delayed, Army eyes US for 72,000 assault rifles – The Army is planning to order another 72,000 assault rifles from US firm SiG Sauer amidst the ongoing heightened military tensions with China as well as the continuing delay in the project to manufacture Russian Kalashnikov rifles in India. The 13-lakh strong Army has already inducted 72,400 SiG Sauer rifles, which are 7.62x51 mm caliber guns with an effective “kill” range of 500-metre, under a Rs 647 crore fast-track procurement deal inked in February 2019.
(Defence and Military)
277 13-07-2020 - Internal security – India to push China for maps to clarify claim lines, actual control – India plans to push the Chinese side for an exchange of maps in the western sector after the process of disengagement and de-escalation is complete and Indian troops go back to their old patrolling posts. Government officials said this would clarify each other’s ‘claim lines’ and actual control, which would make management and patrolling protocols easier. Even after 22 rounds of talks on the boundary question, China has shown no inclination to exchange maps or clarify the LAC, having exchanged maps for only the central sector.
(Defence and Military)
278 13-07-2020 - Polity – Pilot’s rebellion with 30 MLAs puts Gehlot govt. on the edge – The power struggle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot, that has been simmering for long, spilled out into the open on July 12, threatening the stability of the 20-month-old Congress government in Rajasthan. Mr. Pilot said the Gehlot government was now in a minority after over 30 Congress MLAs and some independent lawmakers had pledged support to him. Mr. Pilot also said he would not attend a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party scheduled for Monday.
(Indian Politics)
279 13-07-2020 - World – Defying US, China and Iran near trade and military partnership – Iran and China have quietly drafted a sweeping economic and security partnership that would clear the way for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in energy and other sectors, undercutting the Trump administration’s efforts to isolate the Iranian government because of its nuclear and military ambitions. The partnership would vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects. In exchange, China would receive a regular supply of Iranian oil over the next 25 years.
(World Economy)
280 13-07-2020 - COVID-19 – India’s active cases top 3L, record 29k+ new infections – The number of active Covid-19 cases in the country crossed 3 lakh on July 12 even as fresh infections crossed 29,000 for the first time, with south India accounting for over 10,000 of them. After staying over 500 for two days, daily deaths came down slightly to 492, taking the toll to 23,175. While the focus has been on recoveries, the number of active cases has been rising. It hit the 1 lakh mark on June 4 and went past 2 lakh 23 days later. It has taken just 15 days more to reach 3 lakh. India reported 29,271 new cases, fifth day of record rise, taking the tally to 8,79,060, two days after hitting the 8 lakh mark.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
281 11-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Factory output shrinks 35%, but pace of decline narrows – The country’s factory output contracted sharply for the third consecutive month in May as the national lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus took a toll on several sectors such as manufacturing, but the pace of decline narrowed. The National Statistical Office (NSO) only released the index numbers as a majority of the industrial sector establishments were not operating since the end of March.. The index for the month of May 2020 stands at 88.4 as compared to 53.6 for April 2020. the index of industrial production (IIP) contracted 34.7% in May compared to an expansion of 4.5% in the year ago month. 

(Indian Economy)
282 11-07-2020 - World Politics – Erdogon allowed iconic museum Hagia Sophia to be used as mosque – President Tayyip Erdogan declared Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia open to Muslim prayer as a mosque after a top court ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal. Mr. Erdogan made his announcement just an hour after the court ruling was revealed, brushing aside international warnings not to change the status of the nearly 1,500-year-old monument that is revered by Christians and Muslims alike. Greece’s Culture Ministry described the court decision as an “open provocation” to the civilised world.
(World Politics)
283 11-07-2020 - World Politics – China, U.S. in new spat over Uighur crackdown – China said it will impose tit-for-tat measures after the U.S. slapped sanctions on Chinese officials for their involvement in a crackdown on Muslim minorities, raising tensions between the superpowers. The two countries have traded barbs and sanctions on a slew of issues since President Donald Trump took office, from trade to more recent spats over the coronavirus pandemic, a security law in Hong Kong, and Chinese policies in the far west regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. The latest Chinese response followed a U.S. announcement of visa bans and an assets freeze on three officials, including Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party chief in Xinjiang and architect of Beijing's hardline policies against restive minorities.
(World Politics)
284 11-07-2020 - Internal Security – IAF gets last of 5 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from Boeing – Boeing handed over the last of the five AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF), completing the contract for 22 Apaches. The Apaches were deployed at the Leh air base as part of the forward movement of assets. The final five of the 22 Apache attack helicopters were handed over to the IAF at the Air Force Station, Hindan, in June. Earlier, in March, Boeing handed over the last five of the 15 CH-47F(I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to the IAF. The IAF inducted the first batch of Apaches in September 2019 and based them at Air Force Station, Pathankhot, Punjab. India contracted 22 Apache helicopters and 15 Chinook helicopters from Boeing through in Sept 2015 under a $3 billion deal.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
285 11-07-2020 - Covid-19 Updates – State FDA says Aadhaar must to buy remdesivir –  The state FDA issued a circular that made it mandatory for relatives of patients to produce Aadhaar card details, doctor’s prescription, consent form, the Covid-19 positive report and contact details for the purchase of the anti-viral drug remdesivir and antiinflammatory medicine tocilizumab. The regulatory authority is investigating if hospitals are hoarding the drugs after procuring them directly from manufacturers. FDA minister Rajendra Shingne said the decision was taken in the wake of complaints of shortage and concerns about the experimental drugs being sold in black.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
286 11-07-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – Ahead of military talks, India & China agree on total disengagement – Keeping a close eye on the military disengagement in eastern Ladakh, senior officials from India and China met virtually to talk through the details of the exercise, days before the next round of corps commander-level talks are due. The Indian statement said both sides agreed to ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation. Officials agreed that it was necessary for both sides to sincerely implement the understanding reached between senior commanders. As agreed by the two special representatives (NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi), senior commanders will meet soon to discuss further steps. 
(Defence and Military)
287 11-07-2020 - Indian Politics – LJP, RJD call for postponing Bihar poll – With the Assembly election in Bihar just months away, parties from both the ruling and opposition camps in the State have demanded its postponement in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases. While National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partner Lok Janshakti Party requested the Election Commission to take a decision after “looking into all aspects”, the Rashtriya Janata Dal demanded that the poll be postponed. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is also Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, took aim at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar while opposing the upcoming election. 
(Indian Politics)
288 11-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Solar energy will play big role in ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’: PM – PM Narendra Modi said solar energy would play a major role in achieving self-reliance in energy, essential for an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India). Inagurating a 750 MW solar power project in Rewa district, Madhya Pradesh, he said: “We won’t be able to use solar power entirely unless we have within the country improved solar panels, improved batteries and best quality storage. We need to work in this direction now.” Solar energy, he asserted, would be a big medium for the energy needs of the 21st century.
(Indian Economy)
289 11-07-2020 - Covid-19 Updates – India’s Covid count tops 8L even as deaths cross 22,000 – India’s Covid-19 caseload went past the 8 lakh mark just four days after having crossed 7 lakh, while the death toll topped 22,000. Amid a major surge in the pandemic, fresh infections crossed 27,000 for the first time, the third record high in daily numbers in three days. The day’s death toll from the virus crossed 500 for the first time in six days, settling at 520. This was the second highest single-day count of deaths after the 608 reported on July 4, discounting the 2,003 deaths reported on June 16 in a data reconciliation exercise. Over 2.36 lakh cases have been reported in the 10 days of July, as compared to 4 lakh in the whole of June. Likewise, these 10 days have seen 4,733 deaths while June had recorded about 12,000 in all. With 27,449 cases, the total infections in India rose to 8,21,722, as per data collated from states.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
290 11-07-2020 - Environment and Ecology – 14% excess rain in India so far this monsoon – Monsoon rainfall since June has been 14% more than what is normal for this time of the year. So far, India has received 28.7 cm rainfall as opposed to the typical 25.2 cm. Only on nine of the 40 days of monsoon so far has rainfall been less than the daily average, according to data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).  About 40% of districts received excess rain while 27% others have seen deficient rain, having received at least 20% less rain than usual. There are 29 districts in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in Gujarat and 16 in Jammu and Kashmir that have received deficient rain. Paradoxically, Uttar Pradesh also leads in the number of districts with excess rain (35), followed by Bihar (32) and Madhya Pradesh (28). Currently, the IMD collates rainfall data from 681 districts.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
291 10-07-2020 - Covid-19 Updates – WHO sets up panel to probe its virus response – The World Health Organization, which faced fierce U.S. criticism over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, launched an independent panel to review its response to the pandemic. The Independent panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response will be headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
292 10-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Corona impact may lead to birth of pandemic risk pool – With the coronavirus pandemic causing massive disruption and losses across sectors, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irdai) has proposed creating a “pandemic risk pool”. The aim is to provide cover to risks related to the virus. A pool refers to the practice of insurance companies coming together and committing funds to meet claims arising out of any particular insured risk in proportion to the business they do. In this manner, claim payout is equally shared among all pool participants. 
(Indian Economy)
293 10-07-2020 - US Politics – Trump claim to absolute immunity rejected – The US Supreme Court has dealt a severe blow to President Trump, rejecting his claim to absolute immunity while in office and ruling that a New York prosecutor who is probing possible hush money payments to adult entertainer Stormy Daniels could pursue a subpoena to access his private and business financial records.  There is no immediate danger for Trump since the prosecutor Cyrus Vance will have to return to the lower courts to follow up the subpoena to Deutsche Bank and Mazars, Trump’s bank and accountant respectively, in a process that could take several months and push the denouement past Election Day. 
(World Politics)
294 10-07-2020 - International Affairs – Nepal’s ruling party to meet today to decide PM Oli’s fate – Whether Nepal PM K P Oli yet again proves a survivor or succumbs to an inner party rebellion may be decided when the powerful standing committee of the ruling Nepal Communist Party meets to discuss the political situation after having been postponed it earlier to allow senior leaders some time to address differences. Oli and his rival and party co-chair P K Dahal Prachanda met in an apparent attempt to preserve party unity and avert the crisis which has, according to reports from Nepal, seen 30 out of the 45 members of the committee seeking the PM’s resignation. Oli’s detractors have been pressuring him to step down in the wake of his reported statements that a plot was being cooked against him in New Delhi.
(Regional Politics)
295 10-07-2020 - Upheaval in Nepal  – Oli, Prachanda don’t back down, Nepal ruling party stares at split –  The ruling Nepal Communist Party was staring at a split after efforts to mediate a settlement between Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and the rival camp led by former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ failed to make headway. Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi, who has been meeting leaders on both sides, held talks Thursday with Prachanda. Sources said while Prachanda stuck to his demand that Oli must step down as Prime Minister, he told Hou that no matter how this crisis ends, it will not affect ties between the Nepal Communist Party and the Communist Party of China.
(Regional Politics)
296 10-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Another day, another record: India lists 26,500 infections – A day after reporting over 25,000 new cases for the first time, India’s daily count of Covid-19 infections jumped to another record level, when more than 26,500 cases were detected even as the day’s death toll stood at 477. The country’s overall caseload rose to just under 8 lakh, with more than 7.94 lakh cases reported till Thursday, while 21,578 people had so far succumbed to the virus, as per data collated from state governments. In all 26,550 fresh cases were recorded. The number of recovered had increased to 4.95 lakh but the number of active cases too had risen to more than 2.77 lakh. Deaths have been on the rise even though the mortality rate has been falling. In the last seven days (July 3-9), an average of 485 deaths was reported every day, up from 417 in the previous seven days. In the week before that, the daily average was 395.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
297 10-07-2020 - Disasters and Control – NDMA to monitor water release to Karnataka – Observing that a “threatening disaster situation” may arise in the State due to release of water from dams in Maharashtra during the monsoon, the Karnataka High Court directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to look into this aspect and issue necessary directions to both States through its national executive committee. The High Court also directed the Chief Secretary and other officers of Karnataka to be in touch with their counterparts in Maharashtra to exchange information on release of water and to take precautions till the NDMA examines the matter.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
298 10-07-2020 - Indian Society – Revision in CBSE syllabus makes paper-setting for JEE, NEET tricky – The rationalisation of CBSE syllabus for 2020-21 will not just impact next year’s board exams but also JEE (Main) and NEET-UG, the competitive tests for admission to engineering and medical courses. Deletion of topics from physics, chemistry, maths, and biology, which are also part of the syllabus for JEE (Main) and NEET-UG, make paper-setting for the tests in 2021 a tricky affair. The National Testing Agency on Thursday consulted subject experts on the issue and plans to place the matter before the Joint Admission Board (JAB). IITs, which conduct JEE (Advanced), will also put it up for review by their committee and paper setters to assess the effect.
(Education)
299 10-07-2020 - Covid-19  Updates – Govt. ‘watching’ WHO alert on airborne spread of virus – Continuing to rule out community transmission of COVID-19 in the country, the Union Health Ministry said it is “closely watching the dynamic evolution of the virus situation in India, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) now indicating that the virus may be airborne”. After earlier denials, the WHO now said there is evidence emerging of the airborne spread of the coronavirus, after over 230 scientists across the world urged the global body to update its guidance.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
300 10-07-2020 - Crime – U.P. gangster, wanted for killing 8 policemen, arrested in M.P. – Vikas Dubey, the main accused in the killing of eight policemen in Kanpur’s Bikru village last week, was arrested in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. Later in the evening, he was handed over to a team of the Uttar Pradesh police. He was taken to UP by road. However, Opposition parties as well as the family of Circle Officer Devendra Mishra, who was killed in the Bikru ambush, have questioned the manner of the gangster’s arrest, terming it a staged surrender. Dubey, who has more than 60 cases against him, was on the run since the attack on a police team on the intervening night of July 2 and 3.
(Terrorism)
301 09-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Govt OKs Rs. 1L cr for agri-infra support – The govt. approved Rs 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund to provide medium-to-long term debt financing facility for investment in projects for post-harvest management and community farming assets through interest subvention, financial support and moratorium on repayment. The scheme will be for 10 years till financial year 2029. Uunder this scheme, Rs 1 lakh crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans to Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), marketing cooperative societies, Farmer Producers Organisations (FPOs), self-help groups (SHGs), farmers, joint liability groups (JLG), multipurpose cooperative societies, agri-entrepreneurs, start-ups, aggregation infrastructure providers and central/ state agency or local body sponsored publicprivate partnership projects.
(Indian Economy)
302 09-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Monthly SIP flows dip below ₹8k-cr mark after 18 months – Small investors have started feeling the pinch of declining cash flows due to Covid-related issues like salary cuts, job losses, furloughs and delay in credits of wages. This is showing up in their shrinking contributions to systematic investment plans (SIPs) in mutual fund (MF) schemes. Consider this: Since December 2018, investors were contributing Rs 8,000-croreplus every month. But in June this year, total monthly mutual fund SIP flows fell below that mark for the first time in 18 months to Rs 7,927 crore, according to data released by fund industry trade body Amfi.
(Indian Economy)
303 09-07-2020 - Social Media – Facebook decisions led to serious setbacks for civil rights – report – Facebook’s decisions over the last nine months have resulted in “serious setbacks for civil rights,” according to the damning conclusion of a two-year-long audit commissioned by the social network to review its impact on the world. The final report, which focuses primarily on decisions made since June 2019, praises Facebook’s move to ban American advertisers from using its tools for housing and employment discrimination, and the company’s belated decision to ban explicit support for white nationalism. But, the auditors say, many of the changes were offset by Facebook’s decision.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
304 09-07-2020 - International Affairs – Hong Kong Bans Protest Song and Other Political Expression at Schools – Hong Kong’s education secretary banned students from singing the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong,” posting slogans with political messages or forming human chains, saying “the schools are obliged to stop” such activities. The statement by the secretary, Kevin Yeung, ratcheted up the pressure on the pro-democracy movement as Hong Kong residents struggle to determine what is acceptable behavior under a strict new national security law that China imposed on the semiautonomous territory last week.
(Education)
305 09-07-2020 - International Affairs – Harvard, MIT challenge US decision on int’l students –  Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have filed a joint lawsuit against the US government’s decision to deport foreign students if they do not attend in-person courses despite the raging Covid pandemic, reports Chidanand Rajghatta. In a plea before a Massachusetts court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, MIT and Harvard said the Immigration and Customs Enforcement announcement would disrupt international students’ life and jeopardised their academic pursuits. They pointed out that for many students, returning home at this point could be “impossible, impracticable, expensive, and dangerous”. Further, the lawsuit cautioned that if students are made to attend lectures, packed classes could turn into super -spreaders of the virus.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
306 09-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – New cases in India top 25k in a day first time – India recorded its biggest one-day spike in Covid cases, adding 25,530 to breach the 25,000 mark for the first time. The toll raced past 21,000 with the country logging more than 400 deaths for the sixth day on trot. The spike in cases—fifth record single-day peak in seven days—comes amid increased nationwide testing in the last few days. While 1.8 lakh people were tested on July 5, this rose to 2.41 lakh on July 6 and 2.62 lakh on July 7. With 493 deaths in 24 hours —the second-highest in the last five days — India’s cumulative toll reached 21,122.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
307 09-07-2020 - Polity and Governance – Air pact with US, France, Germany soon – India is likely to have “special arrangement aerial connectivity” with the US, France and Germany within a week. The airlines of all these countries will be allowed to operate flights and ferry passengers to and from India. These airlines would be eligible under home ministry rules. India is also in discussions with the UAE to facilitate travel from here. Delhi was also keen on a travel corridor with the UK, apart from the US, France and Germany, to facilitate travel during the pandemic and till schedule flights resume. With the Gulf, arrangements are being made to operate charter flights to allow travel both ways.
(Governance and Institutions)
308 09-07-2020 - India Social – HC stays Karnataka ban on online classes – In a setback to the State government, the High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday stayed the initial ban and the subsequent curbs imposed on schools against conducting online classes from pre-primary level to class 10. Prima facie the ban and the curbs imposed on conducting online classes violate Articles 21 and 21A of the Constitution, which guarantees fundamental right to education as the online mode is the only way available at present to impart education to the students in view of the closure of regular schools owing to COVID-19 pandemic, the court said.
(Constitution and Law, Education)
309 09-07-2020 - Internal Security – India to look out for signs of China not abiding by deal – The top defence security establishment in India plans to keep a hawk eye for any sign of Beijing not abiding by the phase-wise disengagement and de-escalation agreed to by Indian and Chinese military commanders on June 30. The process gathered momentum after a discussion between NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese foreign minister and state councillor Wang Yi on July 5. If the dirt-track road the Chinese have built along the Galwan river all the way to the LAC is found to have been “black-topped” to asphalt in coming weeks, or if the People’s Liberation Army begins stocking up provisions and shelters for the winter, these would be read as indications the Chinese want to settle in rather than disengage.
(Defence and Military)
310 09-07-2020 - World Politics – Trump starts withdrawal of U.S. from WHO – President Donald Trump formally started the withdrawal of the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO), making good on threats to deprive the UN body of its top funding source over its response to the coronavirus. Public health advocates and Mr. Trump’s political opponents voiced outrage at the exit from the Geneva-based body, which leads the global fight on maladies from polio to COVID-19. After threatening to suspend the $400 million in annual U.S. contributions and then announcing a withdrawal, the Trump administration formally sent a notice to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a State Department spokesperson said. The withdrawal is effective in one year — July 6, 2021.
(World Politics)
311 08-07-2020 - Indian Economy – 99% businesses in India now in MSME category – A change in the definition of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) has turned India into a country of small businesses as nearly 99% of the entities now fall under the category based on the twin parameters of investment and turnover. An entity can be classified as a micro enterprise if investment is up to Rs. 1 crore and turnover does not exceed Rs. 5 crore. The corresponding figures are Rs. 10 crore and Rs. 50 crore for small and Rs 50 crore and Rs 250 crore for medium enterprises. Numbers with the GST authorities show 99% of the entities have a turnover that fits into the MSME definition.
(Indian Economy)
312 08-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Govt prods PSUs to step up capex to revive eco growth – FM N. Sitharaman sought to push capital expenditure by the country’s top public sector companies, as part of the government’s drive to boost investment in the economy and revive growth. Separately, the government is looking at ways to fast-track some of the investment as part of the over Rs 100-lakh-crore National Infrastructure Pipeline as higher spending in creating assets is expected to spur the demand for cement, steel and other crucial inputs, in addition to creating employment. Sitharaman discussed the capex plan of 23 public sector companies with their CMDs and secretaries of ministries of petroleum, power, coal, mines and atomic energy. 
(Indian Economy)
313 08-07-2020 - Covid-19 Updates – Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19 – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. The President has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and that it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it.
(Healthcare and Medicine, People and Personalities)
314 08-07-2020 - World Politics – China censors Internet in Hong Kong – China has unveiled new powers to censor Hong Kong’s Internet and access user data using its feared national security law — but U.S. tech giants have put up some resistance citing rights concerns. The online censorship plans were contained in a 116-page government document released that also revealed expanded powers for police, allowing warrantless raids and surveillance for some national security investigations. The city’s Chief Executive — a pro-Beijing appointee — will have final approval on all applications for interception of communications and covert surveillance operations to do with national security cases.
(World Politics)
315 08-07-2020 - India and it Neighbourhood – As Oli faces calls to step down, China comes to his rescue? –  A flurry of meetings between Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi and top Nepali leaders, including President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, exacerbated concerns both New Delhi and in Kathmandu about a possible Chinese interference in Nepal’s domestic politics. The meetings come at a time PM K P Oli, who is considered close to China, is busy staving off calls from his own party leaders to step down. How successful Oli has been in his efforts will likely be determined in a meeting of the Nepal Communist Party’s powerful standing committee. Apart from Bhandari, Hou also met influential leaders and former PMs Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal. Both have demanded Oli’s resignation as PM and also as party chairperson. Hou is said to have also sought a meeting with Oli’s rival and party cochair P K Dahal Prachanda.
(Regional Politics)
316 08-07-2020 - Covid-19 Updates – Sanitisers and face masks are no longer essential items – Face masks and hand sanitisers will no longer be on the essential commodities list under the EC Act, the central law that empowers the government to fix prices and caps on such items. Officials said the consumer affairs ministry’s notification was not extended considering there is surplus supply and these items can now be exported. Though this will deregulate these two public health-related items, sources said masks can still fall under price control regime under the Drugs Price Control Order.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
317 08-07-2020 - Vizag Gas Leak Case – 12 officials of LG Polymers arrested – A day after the High Power Committee (HPC) submitted its report to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on the LG Polymers styrene monomer vapour leak incident, 12 officials of the South Korea-based chemical company were arrested by the police in Vishakhapatnam. The arrested included Sunkey Jeong Managing Director and CEO; D.S. Kim Technical Director; P.P. Chandra Mohan Rao, Additional Director, and nine others, said Commissioner of Police Rajeev Kumar Meena. It may be recalled that styrene monomer vapour leaked from a storage tank on May 7, killing 12 persons and hospitalising over 550.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
318 08-07-2020 - Covid-19 Updates – India tops worst-hit countries that have ‘no community transmission’ – India is in the company of Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait as countries that maintain they have not reached the community transmission stage despite having over 50,000 cases of Covid and averaging over 1,000 cases a day in the last seven days. Of these, India has by far the highest growth rate of cases, adding on average nearly 22,000 a day at a rate of 3.5%. None of the others has averaged more than 7,000 cases a day over the last week or has a growth rate of over 2%.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
319 08-07-2020 - Indian Society – CBSE reduces syllabus by 30% – The Central Board of Secondary Education has reduced syllabi for Classes 9 to 12 by 30% this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted regular classes. However, core concepts will be retained, Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said. The National Council of Educational Research and Training has provided inputs on strategies to teach this curriculum, given the disruptions to regular classroom teaching caused by the pandemic. The council has also prepared an alternative academic calendar for Classes 1 to 12 to support pedagogy in affiliated schools.
(Education)
320 08-07-2020 - Internal Security – Pullback on, but India won’t rest till China scales down along LAC – The disengagement process may have kicked off at the immediate troop confrontation sites in eastern Ladakh, but the “clear and present threat” from China will remain till there is actual de-induction of its major military build-up along the Line of Actual Control in the high-altitude region. Top sources said it would take “sustained” dialogue at the politicodiplomatic level for China to move its over 25,000 soldiers from the Western Theatre Command, with tanks, artillery and other weaponry, back to their permanent locations in Xinjiang and Tibet. The ongoing creation of ‘buffer zones’ is taking place at the immediate confrontation sites in eastern Ladakh under Phase-I of the de-escalation plan decided between 14 Corps commander Lt-General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin on June 30.
(Defence and Military)
321 07-07-2020 - Indian Economy – MFs step in to support mkt rally as FPIs turn net sellers – Despite foreign fund selling and a rising number of Covid infections in India, the sensex has gained about 1,500 points in four consecutive sessions in July on rising hopes of a vaccine. The buying has also, to a large extent, been supported by mutual funds (MFs), and traders recently acquired by discount brokerages. With a 466-point gain that boosted the sensex to 36,487 at end of trade, the index is now near a fourmonth closing high. In the process, it has also recovered 65% of the loss recorded since its January 20 high at 42,274 to its March 24 low at 25,639.
(Indian Economy)
322 07-07-2020 - Arts and Culture – Spaghetti western movie composer Ennio Morricone passes away at 91 – Ennio Morricone, the Italian composer whose atmospheric scores for spaghetti westerns and some 500 films by a Who’s Who of international directors made him one of the world’s most versatile and influential creators of music for the modern cinema, died in Rome. He was 91. His death was confirmed by his lawyer who said that Morricone had been in hospital after falling and fracturing his femur. Morricone scored many popular films of the past 40 years: La Cage aux Folles (1978), The Thing (1982), The Untouchables (1987), Frantic (1988), Cinema Paradiso (1988), In the Line of Fire (1993), and The Hateful Eight (2015). In 2016, Morricone won his first competitive Academy Award for his score for “The Hateful Eight.”.
(Art Culture Literature, People and Personalities)
323 07-07-2020 - Covid-19 Updates – Australia closes border after 100 years – The border between Australia’s two most populous states will close for an indefinite period as authorities scramble to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of Melbourne. The decision announced marks the first time the border between Victoria and New South Wales has been shut in 100 years. Officials last blocked movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic. “It is the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing this virus,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
324 07-07-2020 - World Politics – US flexes military muscle at China – The US is flexing its military muscle at China on behalf of India and other Asian allies and partners, amid signs that Washington is finally ready to take some punitive action against Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic. In the clearest sign yet that the Trump White House will not back down from its position as a pre-eminent power in the Pacific and beyond, Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News that the US military “will continue to stand strong whether it’s in relationship to a conflict between India and China or anywhere else”. 
(World Politics)
325 07-07-2020 - Governance – Hold final year exams by Sept-end, UGC tells universities –  After a nod from the home ministry for higher education institutes to hold final year exams, the UGC decided to give them a window till September-end to conduct them while reiterating the earlier guidelines to assess final semester (graduating) students through an examination conducted in online, offline or blended mode. The UGC said there will be no changes to the guidelines issued on April 29. The calendar has been tweaked and institutions have been given time till September-end to hold the final year exams, it said. But the guidelines, issued said that in case a student of terminal semester/ final year is unable to appear in the examination, he or she may be given an opportunity to appear in a special examination to be conducted as and when feasible.
(Education, Governance and Institutions)
326 07-07-2020 - Polity and Governance – Permanent commission for women officers will need more time: Govt – Months after the SC granted permanent commission to women officers in the Army, the ministry of defence has sought more time for implementation of the judgment, citing delay due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. The matter is listed for hearing. In a submission to the court on June 10, the MoD had requested a six-month extension to the original three-month period given to the government to implement the apex court directions issued on February 17.
(Constitution and Law, Governance and Institutions)
327 07-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Smaller states become new hotspots – Odisha, Punjab, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and a few smaller states like Goa and the Union territory of J&K are emerging as new Covid-19 hotspots with positivity rates, or total cases per 100 tests, more than doubling in the last month even as there is some moderation in incidence of the disease in badly affected states like Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Karnataka, West Bengal and Odisha had positivity rate of 5% and above, measured between June 19 to July 2. In the period between May 19 and June 1, Karnataka’s positivity rate was 1.3%, West Bengal’s 2.5% and Odisha’s 2%. Goa saw its positivity rate rise from 0.2% during May 19-June 1 to 3.6% during June 19-July 2. (A 14-day period as per WHO helps judge progress in Covid-19 control and a positivity rate above 5% is enough to be categorised as red zone).
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
328 07-07-2020 - Covid-19 – COVID-19 tests cross 1 crore: ICMR – COVID-19 tests in India crossed the one crore mark with 1,01,35,525 cumulative samples tested so far, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said. In the past 24 hours, about 3,46,459 samples were tested. The Council has now recommended that all laboratproes/hospitals initiating testing through rapid antigen tests should ensure that symptomatic patients, who have tested negative in rapid testing, should be referred for real-time RT-PCR testing also. The Council has also written to all the States/UTs directing all private labs undertaking TrueNat/CBNAAT- based testing for COVID-19 to apply for NABL accreditation to ensure quality testing. The Health Ministry added that it is now advocating widespread testing and has also informed the States that increased focus has to be on the “Test, Trace, Treat” strategy.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
329 07-07-2020 - Indian Society – 1.4 lakh families reach MGNREGA’s annual work limit – At least 1.4 lakh poor rural households have already completed their quota of 100 days of work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in the first three months of the year, and will not be eligible for further benefits under the scheme for the rest of the year. Another seven lakh households have completed 80 days and are on the verge of running out of work as well, according to the scheme’s database. With COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown resulting in thousands of unemployed migrant workers returning to their villages and now dependent on MGNREGA wages, activists are urging the government to increase the limit to at least 200 days per household.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
330 07-07-2020 - Internal Security – China, India begin pullback even as NSA, foreign min talk – In what marks a breakthrough after several rounds of military and diplomatic talks, India and China have kicked off step-wise disengagement from the twomonth-long confrontation in Galwan Valley and Gogra-Hot Springs areas of eastern Ladakh, with People’s Liberation Army soldiers also moving back slightly from the seemingly intractable faceoff site at Pangong Tso. Chinese soldiers “have removed some tents and seem to be pulling back” towards ‘Finger-5’ (fingers are mountainous spurs) from ‘Finger-4’ on the north bank of Pangong lake, in accordance with Phase-I of the de-escalation plan thrashed out between the rival corps commanders on June 30. This is significant as the confrontation here is seen to be particularly sticky to resolve.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
331 06-07-2020 - Indian Economy – India may see trade surplus after 18 yrs – India may register its first monthly trade surplus in over 18 years in June as the pace of contraction of exports is estimated to have slowed down to around 12%, while imports are seen to have fallen almost 49% during the month. Initial estimates for June, available with the commerce department, show a trade surplus of around $786 million, with imports pegged at $21.1 billion and exports at $21.9 billion. The last time India had a positive balance on the trade account was in January 2002 when it had a surplus of $10 million with exports of $4.3 billion.
(Indian Economy)
332 06-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – DRDO readies 1,000-bed hosp in 12 days, treatment to be free – A 1,000-bed Covid hospital in Delhi Cantonment, complete with 250 ICU beds, is ready to be operational after Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), with the help of Tata Sons and others, has set it up in just 12 days.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
333 06-07-2020 - US Presidential Elections – Kanye West declares late run for US presidency – A popular rapper and black icon who was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Chicago, West is expected to draw a few young African-American voters enthralled by his success if not his unknown vision. In a narrow election where a few thousand votes could make the difference in winning a state (Trump won Michigan by only around 10,000 votes, getting all its 16 electoral votes in the winner-takes-all system), this could jeopardise Biden support among blacks. Some pundits compared it to the candidacy of Green Party’s Jill Stein, who was seen as a spoiler for Hillary Clinton in 2016, taking away Democratic votes that may have otherwise enabled her to win the White House.
(World Politics)
334 06-07-2020 - International Affairs – Nepal’s ruling party to meet today to decide PM Oli’s fate – Whether Nepal PM K P Oli yet again proves a survivor or succumbs to an inner party rebellion may be decided when the powerful standing committee of the ruling Nepal Communist Party meets to discuss the political situation after having been postponed it earlier to allow senior leaders some time to address differences. Oli and his rival and party co-chair P K Dahal Prachanda met in an apparent attempt to preserve party unity and avert the crisis which has, according to reports from Nepal, seen 30 out of the 45 members of the committee seeking the PM’s resignation. Oli’s detractors have been pressuring him to step down in the wake of his reported statements that a plot was being cooked against him in New Delhi.
(Regional Politics)
335 06-07-2020 - World Politics – Kuwait’s bill on workers rings alarm bells in India –  A draft bill to reduce the number of foreign workers in Kuwait has been deemed constitutional by the legal and legislative committee of the Gulf state’s national assembly. While the bill still has to be vetted by another committee, as Kuwait chalks out a more comprehensive plan to cut down on foreign workers, it has led to fears in India that as many as 7-8 lakh Indians could be forced out of Kuwait if the bill is enacted into law. The bill proposes that the number of Indians, who form the largest expatriate community in Kuwait, be reduced to 15% of the country's 4.8 million population. Indians number about 1.4 million in the country and 15% quota would mean their presence reducing to around 6.5-7 lakh.
(World Politics)
336 06-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India’s Covid count world’s 3rd highest; nearly 25k cases on July 5 – India now has the third highest Covid-19 caseload in the world after overtaking Russia, even as new infections in the country rose to another record high of nearly 25,000 during the day. India also recorded 421 new deaths from the virus, taking the toll to over 2,300 in the five days of this month alone. Total Covid-19 cases recorded in India were 6,97,887. During the course of the day, the count went past Russia’s current caseload of 6,81,251. With this, only the US and Brazil have recorded higher Covid-19 cases than India.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
337 06-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Vaccine trials take 6 to 9 months: WHO Chief Scientist; DST deletes a release mentioning no vaccine before 21 – Days after the Indian Council of Medical Research issued a letter calling for fast-tracking the trial process of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation Soumya Swaminathan said a vaccine trial usually takes at least six months to complete. A fresh controversy erupted over India’s Covid-19 vaccine timelines with a department of science and technology (DST) press release first mentioning and then deleting a reference to the antidote being unlikely to be ready for mass use before 2021.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
338 06-07-2020 - Naxalism - India – Four Maoists killed in Odisha’s Kandhamal – The Odisha police scored a major success in their anti-Naxal operations when four CPI (Maoist) cadres were gunned down in Kandhamal district. On a tip-off, personnel of the Special Operation Group (SOG), an anti-Naxal force, and the District Voluntary Force (DVF), a special constabulary unit of the State police, rushed to a forest area of the Sirla gram panchayat under the Tumudibandh police limits of Kandhamal.
(Terrorism)
339 06-07-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – China doubles down on claims on eastern Bhutan boundary – Days after Bhutan sent China a demarche protesting against Chinese claims to the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary in eastern Bhutan, Beijing has doubled down, including Bhutan’s “eastern sectors” to the boundary dispute between the two countries for the first time. The boundary between China and Bhutan has never been delimited. There have been disputes over the eastern, central and western sectors for a long time. China last month stoped funding for the Sakteng sanctuary from the UN Development Program’s Global Environment Facility (GEF), on the grounds that it was “disputed” territory. According to written records, there has been no mention of eastern Bhutan, or Trashigang Dzongkhag (district), where Sakteng is based, that borders Arunachal Pradesh, in 24 previous rounds of boundary negotiations held between the two countries, between 1984 and 2016. 
(Defence and Military)
340 06-07-2020 - Internal Security – Highways ministry ups border roads upkeep funds by 4 times – In a significant ramp up in the context of the ongoing border standoff with China, the road transport and highways ministry has increased four-fold the allocation for maintenance of NHs in border areas, which are managed by the Border Road Organisation (BRO), from Rs 30 crore to Rs 120 crore for this year. The decision reflects the strategic imperatives that have emerged in the wake of the military face off and the government's renewed focus on stepping up the infrastructure in border areas so as to allow swifter movement of troops and military supply chains. It has also significantly increased the ceiling for new national highway works in border states. In Ladakh, for example, works up to Rs 589 crore can be approved against the earlier cap of Rs 72 crore.
(Defence and Military, Infrastructure)
341 04-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Govt’s new MSME push: providing credit to individual entrepreneurs – The government is set to make changes in the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) to enable lending to individual entrepreneurs, who comprise a large chunk of the over 6.3 crore MSMEs across the country. As of June 26, banks have sanctioned loans to 30.11 lakh MSMEs and disbursed it to 11.21 lakh such enterprises — which is roughly 4.75 per cent and 1.77 per cent, respectively, of total 6.33 crore MSMEs in the country.
(Indian Economy)
342 04-07-2020 - World Politics – France's Macron picks Jean Castex as PM after Philippe resigns – The president swiftly named centre-right mayor Jean Castex to lead a new team of ministers after a reshuffle. Although Mr Philippe was considered more popular than the president, the ruling party had poor local election results at the weekend. President Macron promised a "new path" in an interview published. Mr Philippe met the president early in the morning and they agreed the government would resign. A reshuffle has been expected for some time, and it is common practice for a French president to replace a prime minister during the five-year term in office known as the "quinquennat".
(World Politics)
343 04-07-2020 - World Politics – Turkey trial of Saudi suspects in Jamal Khashoggi murder begins – A Turkish court has opened the trial of 20 Saudi nationals indicted over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The trial began at Istanbul province's main court in Caglayan district. Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Washington Post columnist, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, after he entered the premises to obtain paperwork for his planned marriage.
(World Politics)
344 04-07-2020 - Natural Disasters – Over 2 lakh flood-hit return home – The flood situation in Assam improved, but one more person drowned to take the death toll to 35 since May 22. Landslips killed 24 more during this period. The person drowned in the Athani area of Dhubri district. The scenario, otherwise, is better with more than 2.76 lakh people having returned to their villages and localities during the last 24 hours. The floods affected 13.27 lakh people across 20 districts. The number of people in relief camps has reduced. Compared to 12,597 inmates across 93 relief camps on July 2, there were 11,741 people in 92 shelters till the time of reporting. The Brahmaputra and three of its tributaries, officials said, were flowing above the danger mark, but at fewer stretches than before.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
345 04-07-2020 - World Politics – UK grants asylum to ex-staffer at its Hong Kong consulate –  A former employee at the British consulate in Hong Kong has been granted political asylum in what he believes is the first successful UK asylum case from the former British colony. Simon Cheng, who alleges that he was detained and tortured in China last year, told The Associated Press that he hopes his successful application encourages other democracy activists from the semi-autonomous Chinese territory to seek protection in the UK as Beijing clamps down on the city's protest movement.
(World Politics)
346 04-07-2020 - India Social – Covid pushes JEE Main & Advanced, NEET to Sept – The JEE (Main and Advanced) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (UG) for admission to engineering and medical courses have been postponed to September in view of the surge in Covid-19 infections across the the country. The decision was taken on Friday on a recommendation of the expert committee set up by the HRD ministry. Computer-based multi-session JEE (Main) will be conducted from September 1-6 while JEE (Advanced) —for admission to IITs—will be held on September 27. The pen-paper mode NEET-UG will be held on September 13.
(Education, Healthcare and Medicine)
347 04-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – ICMR’s Aug 15 deadline to vaccine maker stirs a row – An Indian Council of Medical Research letter that sought fast-tracking of approvals relating to clinical trials and spoke of the launch of a vaccine by August 15 stirred the medical and scientific community, with questions being asked on how such deadlines could be adhered to given the complexity and time required for trials on humans. A vaccine candidate by Bharat Biotech received approval to enter initial phases of human clinical trials only earlier this week. In a letter to Bharat Biotech and chosen hospitals for trials, ICMR director general Balram Bhargava advised “to fast-track all approvals related to initiation of the clinical trial and ensure that the subject enrolment is initiated no later than July 7” in view of the public health emergency and “urgency to launch the vaccine”.
 
(Healthcare and Medicine)
348 04-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Plasma donation can’t be made mandatory: HC – The Delhi High Court observed that plasma donation cannot be made mandatory and it cannot be made a precondition for accessing COVID-19 treatment. A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan underscored the “voluntariness” involved in the donation exercise by recovered patients while hearing a petition. The plea filed by advocate and social worker Piyush Gupta sought to make it mandatory for all hospitals to obtain plasma from recovered patients — both those admitted in hospitals as well as others in home quarantine — by framing proper guidelines. While declining to entertain the petition, the Bench asked the government to treat it as representation and decide on suggestions made in it in accordance with the law.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
349 04-07-2020 - Crime – 8 U.P. policemen killed during raid – Eight policemen, including a Deputy Superintendent, were in an ambush at Uttar Pradesh’s Bikru village in Kanpur during an operation to arrest an accused. Uttar Pradesh DGP H.C. Awasthi said eight policemen had died while five other policemen, one homeguard and a civilian were injured, after the assailants opened fired at the police team from the rooftops when they reached the village under the Chaubeypur police station. The team had gone to arrest Vikas Dubey, who faces 60 criminal cases, based on a complaint of attempt to murder against him, said Mr. Awasthi.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
350 04-07-2020 - Internal Security – Age of expansionism is over, PM says in Ladakh – Without referring to China directly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Ladakh that the “age of expansionism” was over and countries across the world were now witnessing the era of development. In a surprise visit to Ladakh, 17 days after Chinese troops killed 20 jawans in Galwan Valley, the Prime Minister said India’s determination to protect its territory was “as high as the Himalayas”. Mr. Modi’s visit came after three round of talks between Indian and Chinese military commanders to end contentious and violent face-offs between their troops. There are also reports of both countries building up troop levels along the boundary even as the talks continue.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
351 03-07-2020 - Indian Economy – States demand Vice-Chairman post in GST Council, won’t budge on compensation – A meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council later this month is set to be a stormy affair with states set to air concerns of inadequate representation and an overall review of the indirect tax regime besides sticking to their demand for 14 per cent compensation. States are guaranteed compensation for any revenue shortfall from the base year of 2015-16 at an annualised growth rate of 14 per cent.
(Indian Economy)
352 03-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Govt debates tough China steps without hurting FDI – A section within the government is of the view that the Centre must adopt tough measures against China over the border standoff and act against Beijing’s interests in areas that do not add value to India’s economy, but ensure that investments critical for accelerating growth should not be derailed. 
(Indian Economy)
353 03-07-2020 - World Politics – Russians Grant Putin Right to Extend His Rule Until 2036 in Landslide Vote – Russians opened the door to Vladimir Putin staying in power until 2036 by voting overwhelmingly for constitutional changes that will allow him to run again for president twice, but critics said the outcome was falsified on an industrial scale. After 99.9% of ballots had been counted, showed that the former KGB officer who has ruled Russia for more than two decades as president or prime minister had easily won the right to run for two more six-year terms after the current one ends in 2024. That means Putin, 67, could rule until the age of 83. The Central Election Commission said 77.9% of votes counted across the world’s largest country had supported changing the constitution. Just over 21% had voted against.
(World Politics)
354 03-07-2020 - World Politics – China warns US, UK of strong steps if they meddle in HK – China warned of strong countersteps if the US, Australia and the UK continued taking actions in response to Beijing’s tough national security law in Hong Kong, saying foreign pressure would “never succeed.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China “deplores and firmly opposes” the US parliament’s unanimous passing of a bill that would impose sanctions on entities that help violate Hong Kong’s autonomy and financial institutions that do business with them. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent, a day after the House of Representatives also cleared it without opposition, a rare example of bipartisan support. It will now be sent to President Trump to sign into law or veto.
(World Politics)
355 03-07-2020 - Indian Econmy – India’s trade deficit with China dips to $48.66 billion –  India’s trade deficit with China fell to $48.66 billion in 2019-20 on account of the decline in imports from the neighbouring country, according to government data. Exports to China in the last financial year stood at $16.6 billion, while imports aggregated at $65.26 billion, the data showed. The trade deficit stood at $53.56 billion in 2018-19 and $63 billion in 2017-18. India has time and again raised concerns over the widening trade deficit with China. The government is framing technical regulations and quality norms for several products to reduce dependence on Chinese imports.
(Indian Economy)
356 03-07-2020 - Constitution and Law – Three policemen held in T.N. custodial deaths case – In a pre-dawn operation, the Tamil Nadu Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) arrested Sridhar, suspended inspector and Station House Officer of the Sattankulam station, in the case relating to the custodial murder of trader P. Jayaraj and his son J. Benicks. Sub-inspector Balakrishnan and constable Murugan, both suspended, were also arrested by special teams. Another accused, sub-inspector Raghu Ganesh, had been arrested earlier. The duo died at the Kovilpatti Government Hospital after they were allegedly tortured in police custody on June 19 after being picked up on a trivial charge.
(Constitution and Law)
357 03-07-2020 - Indian Society – Central police forces to recruit trans people as ‘third gender’ soon – In a major gender reform, the home ministry is set to allow induction of transgender people as ‘third gender’ into the central armed police forces. The ministry is at the concluding stage of consultations with central paramilitary forces—BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF and SSB—on incorporating ‘transgender’, along with male and female, in the rules for the recruitment examination for assistant commandants in central forces, starting this year.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
358 03-07-2020 - International Affairs – India loses jurisdiction over Italian marines case – The Government of India said it was studying an international tribunal’s ruling that the Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen in the waters off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, held “immunity” and would face a trial in Italy, not India. While the tribunal held in Italy’s favour the main submission, of jurisdiction, it found merit in India’s counter-claim that the marines on board “Enrica Lexie” had violated the freedom of navigation rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by shooting at fishing boat “St. Antony” and should pay compensation to the victims’ families, the boat owner and crew members. In their defence, the marines claimed they mistook the fishermen for “pirates” and that the shooting occurred in international waters.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
359 03-07-2020 - Indian Society – Over 50% Indians 25 yrs or older – For the first time, more than half of India’s population, irrespective of gender or whether it’s in urban or rural areas, is now 25 years or older. This was revealed in the Sample Registration System 2018 report released recently by the registrar general and census commissioner of India. As India’s fertility rate goes down steadily along with a rise in life expectancy, the proportion of its young population is shrinking and the median age has been increasing. The report showed that even among rural men, the proportion of those below 25 years of age had fallen to 49.9% from 50.2% in 2017. In all other categories — urban women, urban men and rural women — those under 25 already constituted less than half the population. Overall, the under-25s in 2018 constituted 46.9% of the population. However, there are still several states, those that continue to have high fertility rates, where this proportion is much higher.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
360 03-07-2020 - Internal Security – MoD approves 33 new fighter jets in deals worth Rs. 38,900 cr. – Amid the tension on the border with China, the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, approved deals worth Rs. 38,900 crore. These include procurement of 21 MiG-29 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF), upgrade of 59 MiG-29s and acquirement of 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft. The approvals come a week after Mr. Singh’s visit to Moscow for the Victory Day Parade. Also Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on winning a vote on changes to the Constitution.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
361 02-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Rly minister invites pvt bids to run 151 trains – The railway ministry on Wednesday invited bids from private players to operate 151 trains on 109 pairs of routes. The origin-destination routes have been formed into 12 clusters including two each under Delhi and Mumbai zones, one each under Howrah, Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Secunderabad, Patna, Prayagraj and Jaipur. The railway ministry has said each train will have at least 16 coaches with design speed of 160 kmph. The ministry has estimated nearly Rs 30,000 crore private investment due to this initiative.
(Indian Economy)
362 02-07-2020 - Telecommunication – Data theft, security issues key in selecting 5G vendors – A day after the US communications department tagged Chinese telecom vendors Huawei and ZTE as a “national security risk”, government sources asserted that concerns over data theft and security implications will shape the crucial call on deciding 5G vendors for India.  Fifth-generation telecom (5G) technology is absolutely crucial for accelerating and deepening the Digital India campaign. We also need to factor in cost considerations. But considerations of integrity of data of Indian citizens and national security will be given the utmost importance when the decision is made. The stance may have serious implications for the Chinese giant Huawei, which has long struggled to quell the rampant suspicion about it being an arm of the Chinese PLA, as well as ZTE.
(Science and Technology, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
363 02-07-2020 - World Politics – 52 killed in Ethiopia protests over singer's death – At least 52 people were killed in Ethiopia's Oromiya region in protests following the fatal shooting of a popular singer.  Musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa was shot dead on Monday night in what police said was a targeted killing. Protests broke out the next morning in the capital and other cities in the Oromiya region. The dead included protesters and members of the security forces, spokesman Getachew Balcha said. Some businesses had also been set on fire.
(World Politics)
364 02-07-2020 - Indian Society – Madhya Pradesh has highest under – 5 mortality rate of 56 – Deaths in the 0-4 year age group account for a shocking 20% of total deaths or one in every five in Madhya Pradesh. In contrast, deaths in this age group account for just 2% or one in fifty of total deaths in Kerala. This was revealed in the Sample Registration System (SRS) 2018 report released recently by the registrar general and census commissioner of India. A high proportion of deaths in the 0-4 age group is not unique to Madhya Pradesh and is the case among states with poor development indices. These include UP, Rajasthan and Bihar in that order with about one in six deaths is in the 0-4 age group.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
365 02-07-2020 - Hong Kong Protests – First arrest made under new security law –  Hong Kong was facing up to a new reality, after China's central government imposed a sweeping national security law late the night before that critics say stripped the city of its autonomy and precious civil and social freedoms, and cements Beijing's authoritarian rule over the territory. Hundreds turned out to protest the legislation in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay, but were met with a heavy security presence. Riot police fired pepper spray into the crowd, kettled and dispersed protesters, and deployed water cannons. Police were later seen seen firing tear gas and rubber bullets. At least 370 people were arrested Wednesday, including 10 on suspicion of violating the national security law. Among those was a 15-year-old girl.
(Constitution and Law)
366 02-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Plasma therapy can be considered for treating moderate corona cases – Convalescent plasma can be considered for treatment of moderate Covid-19 patients who are not improving (oxygen requirement is progressively increasing) despite use of steroids, the directorate general of health services (DGHS) said, clearing the air on use of convalescent plasma therapy. Convalescent plasma therapy is allowed as an investigational therapy for use in Covid-19 patients. The clinical management protocol prescribed by the government recommends convalescent plasma by plasmapheresis as in Covid-19 patients with a few safeguards.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
367 02-07-2020 - Industrial Disaster – Six killed, 17 injured in explosion at NLC power plant in TN – Six workers died and 17 others were injured in a blast at thermal power station (TPS) II of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation in Neyveli. According to NCIL sources, the cause of the explosion was being ascertained. The accident comes just a month after five workers died in an explosion at the plant on May 7. The injured workers were given first aid at NLCIL hospital and 16 of them were referred to a private hospital in Chennai for treatment. Eleven of the 16 injured were said to be in critical condition. One worker, who sustained minor injuries, was undergoing treatment at the NLCIL GH.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
368 02-07-2020 - Religion – Lalbaugcha Raja not to give darshan first time in 87 yrs – For the first time since its inception 87 years ago, the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal will not celebrate the festival this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ganeshotsav begins on August 22 this year and September 1 is final day of immersions. The organisers of Mumbai’s best-known Ganeshotsav mandal called a press conference to announce that they were cancelling celebrations, which were started in the 1930s, this year. The mandal declared a contribution of Rs 25 lakh to the CM’s Relief Fund to fight the pandemic. It said it would conduct a 10-day blood and plasma donation drive during Ganeshotsav.
(Religion)
369 02-07-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – India, China agree to restart Galwan, Hot Springs pullback – India and China have broadly agreed to restart the gradual and verifiable troop disengagement from ‘friction points’ in Galwan Valley and Gogra-Hot Springs areas of eastern Ladakh, which got derailed after Chinese soldiers reneged on the pullback agreement, leading to the bloody clashes on June 15. However, there has been no breakthrough in defusing the major troop confrontation at Pangong Tso, where PLA has built large fortifications and taken the dominating heights after occupying the ‘Finger-4 to 8 area’ (mountainous spurs over 8km) on the north bank of the lake since early May.
(Defence and Military)
370 02-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India’s Covid tally breaches 6L as 19k more test positive – Covid cases in India crossed six-lakh, five days after breaching the half-million mark, even as the growth rate of fresh cases and fatalities in the last one lakh cases dropped marginally compared to preceding one lakh cases. After a gap of two days, fresh cases breached the 19,000-mark again with 19,684 patients testing positive, taking the country’s caseload to 6,05,068. However, daily fatalities on Wednesday dropped to 434, taking the country’s cumulative death toll to 17,837. On the positive side, 3,59,671 people have recovered from the virus. The growth rate of 3.6% for one lakh cases on June 26 — when India breached the half-million mark — fell to 3.5% on Wednesday. Similarly, the growth rate of fatalities dropped from 2.9% to 2.6%.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
371 01-07-2020 - Indian Economy – Core sector decline slows in May, deficit at 59% of target – The contraction in the key eight core sectors narrowed in May compared to the previous month but overall it still remained in negative territory with seven segments posting sharp declines, highlighting the brutal impact of the lockdown. Data released by the commerce and industry ministry showed the eight core sectors — spanning coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity — contracted 23.4% in May, narrower than the 37% decline posted in previous month.
(Indian Economy)
372 01-07-2020 - World Politics – China passes sweeping Hong Kong national security law – Beijing imposed a wide-reaching national security law on Hong Kong, which many fear could be used to override existing legal processes and erode the city's civil and political freedoms. The stringent national security law and its 66 articles were kept secret from the public until 11pm local time, when the law officially went into effect. It dramatically broadens Beijing's powers to investigate, prosecute and punish suspected criminals in Hong Kong. The law was drafted behind closed doors by members of Beijing's top lawmaking body, the National People's Congress (NPC), bypassing Hong Kong's own elected legislative council. The new legislation criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers.
(World Politics)
373 01-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – EU reopens its borders to 14 nations, US and India don't make it to the list – The European Union will reopen its borders to travellers from 14 countries, and possibly China soon, but most Americans have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the US. As Europe's economies reel from the impact of the coronavirus, southern EU countries like Greece, Italy and Spain are desperate to entice back sun-loving visitors and breathe life into their damaged tourism industries. American tourists make up a big slice of the EU market and the summer holiday season is a key time. 
(Healthcare and Medicine)
374 01-07-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – PM Modi extends free ration to 80cr till Nov – In a move to bolster food security for the poor impacted by a Covid induced economic slowdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the scheme to provide five kg foodgrains and one kilo of pulses for free to 80 crore beneficiaries for another five months. During a national broadcast, Modi said the five month extension will cost around Rs 90,000 crore, taking the overall cost to Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Poor families are entitled to 5 kg grains every month under the National Food Security Programme and the government is topping up the entitlement with a matching quantity, with pulses thrown in, at no charge.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
375 01-07-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Country gets its wettest June in 12 years –  India experienced its wettest month of June in 12 years with 18% above normal rainfall on the back of timely monsoon onset and its swift advance across the country. While all four regions have recorded surplus rains, central India as well as east and northeast have received the heaviest showers. Early figures for kharif season sowing reflects the good rainfall so far, with 315.6 lakh hectare already under cultivation, which is 68% higher than the normal for the week, as per agriculture ministry data from June 26. While the area under rice was 5.7 lakh hectare higher than normal, significantly higher sowing was also recorded in pulses, course cereals, oilseeds and cotton.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
376 01-07-2020 - Arts and Culture – Jharkhand woman wins Commonwealth story prize – A woman from Ranchi currently studying in the US has won £5,000 after her tale about a Hindu girl falling in love with a Muslim boy beat more than 5,000 entries from 49 countries to win the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Kritika Pandey, 29, was speechless and tearful when announced as the overall winner of the prize for “The Great Indian Tee and Snakes” at an online ceremony. The prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The award was presented by the chair of the 2020 judging panel, Ghanaian writer and editor Nii Ayikwei.
(Art Culture Literature)
377 01-07-2020 - Indian Society – With IIM-B fee hike, flagship MBA at the top 3 costs Rs. 23L  – With the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) hiking tuition fees for its flagship MBA programme, India’s top three Bschools are now charging at par. Whether a student gets into IIM-A (Ahmedabad), B or C (Calcutta), the charges remain the same — Rs 23 lakh. IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta have not hiked fees for the incoming batch in lieu of the Covid-19 pandemic. At a lower fee of Rs 19 lakh (not increased), IIM Kozhikode topped the charts with highest number of full fee waivers last year.
(Education)
378 01-07-2020 - Nepal – Party rivals put pressure on Nepal PM Oli to quit – Nepal’s hardline Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli came under immense pressure to resign from within the ruling Nepal Communist Party, including from former PM Prachanda. Prachanda, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal and Bamdev Gautam demanded that Oli quit during a meeting. The party has seen simmering discontent in recent days and Oli has tried to blame India for the rebellion. He has gone on record to say that India has been behind the efforts to unseat him. Over the weekend, Oli said there were “plots” in Kathmandu and New Delhi to remove him over his move to claim Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as Nepali territories. Nepal Parliament recently approved a map by the Oli government, which shows these territories as part of the Himalayan nation.
(Regional Politics)
379 01-07-2020 - Indian Society – Education brings down women’s fertility rate – As total fertility rate (TFR) reflects a decline from 5.2 in 1971 to 2.2 in 2018, the sample registration system statistical report 2018 highlights, among other factors, how not just age but education levels of women too have had a direct impact on fertility.mAt the national level, TFR for women whose educational status was given as ‘illiterate’ was 3 in 2018. The figure was 2.1 among the ‘literate’ group. As the level of education increased, the TFR registered a gradual decline.  
(Education)
380 01-07-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – India’s app ban a setback to global ambitions of Chinese tech giants – The Indian government’s decision to ban 59 Chinese apps may not significantly impact their revenues, but it is a big setback for many internet giants with global ambitions. The ban includes apps from some of the largest Chinese technology companies, including Alibaba, Bytedance, Baidu, Tencent, Xiaomi, YY Inc and Lenovo, which have been building up user bases of millions in India. Even more worryingly for them, India’s move could set a global precedent. Unlike US tech majors like Facebook and Google, which have been able to build big businesses in Europe and Asia, India and Southeast Asia are some of the markets that large Chinese companies have been betting on to show that they can succeed beyond their home turf. With no global competitors at home due to the great Chinese firewall, many of these firms have flourished in their huge domestic market, generating billions in profits. They have used these funds to expand globally, either through investments or direct operations.
(Governance and Institutions, Science and Technology)
381 29-06-2020 - Indian Economy – RBI board debates 90-day NPA cap – he RBI board discussed the need for extending the non-performing assets (NPA) recognition date beyond 90 days, citing widespread distress in the corporate sector, which may not be confined to small businesses. The issue was flagged by Sachin Chaturvedi, director general at policy think tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), with Teamlease chairman Manish Sabharwal and Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran too joining in.
(Indian Economy)
382 29-06-2020 - Indian Economy – As markets crashed, LIC entered to buy stocks amid fall in holdings in March – After witnessing a decline in the share of its holdings in stocks listed on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) to a decade’s low, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) — India’s largest investors in the capital market — is set to improve the valuation following the partial recovery in the market and fresh purchases by the Corporation between April, May and June. LIC’s holding in companies listed on NSE fell to at least a decadal low of 3.88 per cent at the end of March 2020. Data sourced from nseinfobase.com, a joint initiative of NSE and PRIME Database, shows that LIC’s holding in NSE-listed companies went down from 3.96 per cent as on December 31, 2019. Six years back, in March 2014, its share stood at 4.72 per cent.
(Indian Economy)
383 29-06-2020 - India-Pakistan Relations – Pakistan to hold general polls in Gilgit-Baltistan on August 18 – Pakistan will hold general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan on August 18, the government has announced after the country’s top court allowed holding of polls in the region, notwithstanding India’s strong protest to Islamabad for its efforts to bring “material change” to the territories under its “illegal and forcible” occupation. The Pakistan Supreme Court on April 30 allowed the government to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region. 
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
384 29-06-2020 - World Politics – Thousands in western Myanmar flee as army plans operations, monitors say – Thousands of villagers have fled their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state after a local administrator warned dozens of village leaders that the army planned “clearance operations” against insurgents, a lawmaker and a humanitarian group said. But a government spokesman said late on Saturday an evacuation order issued by border-affairs officials had been revoked. Border affairs acknowledged issuing the order through the local administrator but said it affected fewer villages. The warning to the village leaders came in a letter, which was seen by Reuters and verified by a state government minister, Colonel Min Than.
(World Politics)
385 29-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – US virus cases breach record for 5th day –  The US reported a fifth consecutive day of record new cases of coronavirus infections as the number of worldwide cases crossed 10 million, claiming nearly 5,00,000 lives. The US alone accounts for a quarter of the infections and fatalities, the death toll crossing 1,25,000 from 2.5 million cases over the weekend. After seeming to have the pandemic under control coming into June, easing up on the lockdown measures over the past few weeks has seen the virus rear up again, striking in states such as Texas and Florida thatrushed to re-open. Both are now reversing the re-opening.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
386 29-06-2020 - World Politics – China centralises leadership of military reserve forces: Report – China will centralise management of its reserve forces as part of efforts to ensure the Communist Party’s absolute leadership of the military and build a worldclass army. Starting July 1, the reserve force, which is part of the People’s Liberation Army, will fall under the direct leadership of the central government and the Central Military Commission, Xinhua said. Currently, the reserve force is under the dual leadership of the PLA and local Party committees and governments, according to the website of China’s ministry of national defence. President Xi Jinping, who is the chairman of the Central Military Commission, had earlier asked the military to improve its management practices to promote development of the armed forces.
(World Politics)
387 29-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India, third after US and Brazil to report 20,000 cases in a day – India reported over 19,700 fresh Covid-19 cases, the second highest single-day surge so far. Nearly, 1.1 lakh coronavirus infections have been added to the country’s tally in just the past six days. With 384 new deaths, the virus toll rose to 16,468. India’s caseload stood at 5,49,106, as per data from state governments, while the number of active cases and those recovered rose to over 2.1 lakh and 3.2 lakh, respectively. Karnataka became the fifth state after Maharashtra, TN, Delhi and Telangana to register over 1,000 cases in a day. It reported 1,267 cases, with Bengaluru accounting for 783. Numbers surged in Tamil Nadu as well, reporting nearly 4,000 fresh cases (3,940).
(Healthcare and Medicine)
388 29-06-2020 - Indian Society – 651 Maha farmers committed suicide between Jan & April – The state revenue department data has revealed that 651 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra between January and April this year despite good rabi harvests and no major adverse weather event. The highest number of suicides, 200, was recorded in February, while 195 suicides were recorded in January. The lockdown months of March and April together saw 256 farmers taking the extreme step. Though March and April had relatively fewer number, farm experts said over 600 suicides in a season of no adverse weather event was worrisome. Farm distress peaked in March and April, because of the lockdown imposed to tackle Covid-19.

(Agriculture, Healthcare and Medicine)
389 29-06-2020 - Indian Society – auto driver loses life to ‘police brutality’ in TN – Close on the heels of the death of a father-son duo in Tuticorin allegedly after being thrashed by police, an autorickshaw driver died in Tenkasi, days after being allegedly assaulted by the men in uniform. Kumaresan (25) died at the Tirunelveli Government hospital where he was admitted with injuries after being allegedly assaulted on June 12 and two police personnel have been booked in this connection, police said. They said the relatives of the auto driver staged a road roko demanding justice. Police, who were holding talks with the people of Veerakeralamputhur, said cases had been filed against two police personnel, including an assistant sub inspector. Kumaresan had appeared at the local police station over a dispute and soon after he was allegedly thrashed by the cops. The victim’s father had filed a complaint with the district police chief.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
390 29-06-2020 - Internal Security – India, Japan conduct naval exercise amid China row – At a time when India and China are locked in a major troop confrontation in eastern Ladakh, Indian and Japanese warships held a small exercise towards the Malacca Strait in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Indian warships patrolling the region, Rajput-class destroyer INS Rana and Koraclass missile corvette INS Kulish, took part in the exercise with JS Shimayuki and JS Kashima from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force’s training squadron. Though it was “largely a PASSEX (passing exercise)”, it definitely amounts to some strategic signaling for China. 
(Defence and Military)
391 27-06-2020 - Indian Politics – Bihar Elections – People aged 65 years and above can opt for postal ballot facility in Lok Sabha, Assembly polls; earlier 80 years and above were allowed.
(Indian Politics)
392 27-06-2020 - Indian Economy – RBI board takes stock of economy, rate transmission; no decision on loan recast – Contrary to expectations, the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) did not take up the proposal to restructure the loans of borrowers hit by COVID-19 pandemic. The board, which met through video conferencing Friday, discussed the economic scenario, impact of the RBI measures and interest rate transmission.
(Indian Economy)
393 27-06-2020 - World Politics – Li Zhensheng, photographer of China's Cultural Revolution, dies – Li Zhensheng, a photographer who at great personal risk documented the dark side of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, producing powerful black-and-white images that remain a rare visual testament to the brutality of that tumultuous period, many of them not developed or seen for years, has died. He was 79. His death was confirmed by Robert Pledge, a founder of Contact Press Images and editor of Mr. Li’s photo book “Red-Color News Soldier,” who said that Mr. Li had been hospitalized on Long Island. He lived in Queens. Further details, including the date of his death, were not released.
(World Politics)
394 27-06-2020 - World Politics – Southeast Asia leaders sound alarm on South China Sea tensions – Vietnam and the Philippines raised concerns over repeated violations of maritime rules at a summit of Southeast Asian leaders amid growing grievances with China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea. The meeting, held virtually and hosted by Vietnam, comes as the region reopens after lockdowns to check the spread of Covid-19 and negotiates travel lanes with other nations. While the 10-nation bloc known as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has pledged cooperation to fight the virus, it is also grappling with Beijing’s assertions in the high seas.
(World Politics)
395 27-06-2020 - US Presidential Elections – Polls show landslide win for Biden if elections held now –  US President Trump is headed for a rout in the elections while handing a landslide to his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, various polls are showing. Although there are over four months to go for the November 3 polls, surveys show Biden leading by anywhere from 10 to 14 points nationwide, translating into an easy win if elections were held today. Converted into electoral college outcome, the popular support shows Biden comfortably getting the 270 votes (out of 538) needed to win the White House, the tally going past 400 if everything goes the Democratic way.
(World Politics)
396 27-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Reverse journey a relief for industry – There is strong evidence of “reverse” migration with several Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Howrah, Delhi and Secunderabad bound special mail and express trains from states like UP and Bihar running full. The reservation status for these trains from June 26 to June 30 was at 100% with more people on the waiting list, rail ministry data showed, indicating that migrant workers who had gone to their homes in the hinterland are returning to cities. The return of these workers augurs well for the economy as businesses reopen, though it means there is a need for more measures to check the spread of Covid-19.
(Indian Economy)
397 27-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – New colony of near-extinct Finn’s weaver found in UP – A chance discovery of a fresh breeding colony of the Finn’s weaver — a tiny bird clothed in yellow and black — in UP’s Bijnor by a team of Bombay Natural History Society has kindled hope among those worried about the future of the species. Of the just 1,000 or so left in the world right now, 500 are in India. The Finn’s weaver is a globally threatened species currently listed as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. It’s on the verge of extinction, according to BNHS that is looking to upgrade the species’ status to “critical” in the list.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
398 27-06-2020 - Jammu and Kashmir – IAS officer is first non-Kashmiri to get domicile under new law – A 1994 batch IAS officer from Bihar posted in J&K for 26 years has become the first non-Kashmiri civil servant to get a domicile certificate under a new law that offers permanent residency in the Valley to any Indian or registered West Pakistan refugee who meets the eligibility criteria. Navin Choudhary, currently principal secretary of agriculture, had so far lived in government-provided accommodation but will be now eligible to buy property anywhere in the Valley and enjoy all other rights that used to be reserved for indigenous Kashmiris. The new law grants settlement rights to anyone who has resided in J&K for a minimum of 15 years or has studied in an institution in J&K for at least 7 years and appeared for Class 10 or plus-two board exams.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
399 27-06-2020 - India-Nepal Relations – India watches as Oli faces ‘revolt’ – After the initial hostility over Nepal’s new map, the government has adopted, for now, a more sedate approach to the neighbour, not least because of the fissures in the ruling communist party coming to the fore in the past few days. While it may be too early to say that Nepal PM K P Oli’s days are numbered, his rival in the party, P. K. Dahal Prachanda, has made it clear he has had enough of the unilateral manner in which Oli is allegedly working. According to reports from Nepal, Oli is already facing calls for his resignation. India has also closely followed reports that Nepal may have ceded territory to China but this has been denied by Nepal’s foreign ministry. India’s reaction to internal developments in the past week or so in Nepal has been limited to reminding Kathmandu that the government has worked to ensure that supplies of essentials to Nepal despite the lockdown have remained unaffected.
(Indian Politics)
400 27-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Monsoon covers India 12 days in advance, fastest since 2013 – In a swift and smooth advance through the country, the monsoon covered the whole of India, 12 days before the normal date of July 8, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. Along with 2015, when the monsoon had raced through the country on the same date, this was the fastest progression of the rain-bearing system since 2013. In the past 13 years, the monsoon has covered the entire country before June 26 only once—in 2013, when a freak convergence of several weather systems had caused the catastrophic Kedarnath deluge while advancing the monsoon by an all-time record date of June 16. IMD said the monsoon marched into the remaining parts of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan on Friday to cover the entire country, 26 days after hitting the Kerala coast. This sets the stage for timely sowing of kharif crops across the country.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
401 26-06-2020 - Indian Economy – SEBI relaxes preferential pricing norms, tweaks takeover code – Market regulator SEBI has decided to relax pricing regulations for preferential share allotment to encourage companies to raise funds from the market. The market regulator has provided an additional option for pricing preferential issuance of shares. According to the rule, companies, to price their preferential issue, will be allowed to consider the average of weekly high and low of the volume weighted average price during the previous 12 weeks or the previous 2 weeks, whichever is higher. SEBI also added that companies opting for the new pricing formula will have the securities allotted for a period of 3 years.
(Indian Economy)
402 26-06-2020 - Covid-19 Updates – At 36,880 US records highest one-day spike so far – The United States recorded its worst day of new coronavirus infections since the pandemic began, as health officials around the country reported a total of 36,880 new cases. COVID-19 infections in the United States had been slowing since the previous record of 36,739 cases back on April 24, but case counts have roared back in recent weeks, The New York Times reported. The latest evidence of the pandemic's economic toll also arrived, with the U.S. Labor Department reporting that 1.5 million more jobless claims were filed last week. It's the 14th straight week that new unemployment claims have topped 1 million.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
403 26-06-2020 - World Politics – Pakistan PM Imran Khan calls Osama bin Laden ‘martyr’ in Parliament – Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called slain al-Qaeda chief and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden a “shaheed” (martyr) and said that Islamabad faced “embarrassment” by taking part in America’s war on terror. Speaking in parliament during the budget session, Mr. Khan said the American forces entered Pakistan and killed bin Laden without informing Islamabad after which everyone started abusing his country.
(World Politics)
404 26-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Framework for producers to manage plastic waste – Four years after making producers’ responsible for managing plastic waste in the country, the Centre has come out with a much awaited framework where it suggests three different models to be adopted by manufacturers, importers and brand owners to handle the waste under supervision of a central authority. Introduction of a system of plastic credit, establishing Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) and setting up a fee-based mechanism are three different models which will be available to producers of plastic products, including FMCG companies, under this framework.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
405 26-06-2020 - India: Politics – Indian money in Swiss banks down 6% in 2019, falls for 2nd yr –  Funds parked by Indian individuals and enterprises in Swiss banks, including through India-based branches, fell nearly 6% in 2019 to 899 million Swiss francs (Rs 6,625 crore), annual data released by Switzerland’s central bank showed. This marks the second consecutive year of decline in aggregate funds of Indian clients with all Swiss banks, taking the figure to the third lowest level in more than three decades since 1987 when the Swiss National Bank (SNB) began compiling the data.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
406 26-06-2020 - Indian Society – Govt launches app for easy access to blood – With an aim to enable easy access to safe blood, health minister Harsh Vardhan launched ebloodservices app, in partnership with the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), for easy access to blood needed for transfusion. This app has been developed by the e-Raktkosh team of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) under the Digital India scheme. Many people require blood-related services regularly because of certain medical conditions in their families. Through this app, four units of blood can be requisitioned at a time and the blood bank will wait for as long as 12 hours for the person to collect it.
(Governance and Institutions, Trivia and Miscellaneous)
407 26-06-2020 - Indian Society – HUL to drop ‘fair’ from ‘Fair & Lovely’ – ‘Fair & Lovely’, India’s popular skin complexion cream, is rebranding itself. Even as parent Unilever’s presence in the skin lightening space came under intense pressure globally, Hindustan Unilever (HUL) said it would stop using the word ‘Fair’ in the 40-year-old brand name. The move marks the culmination of the company’s conscious effort to move the brand’s proposition from ‘fairness’ to ‘radiance’. It puts to rest a controversial chapter in the history of the brand that was seen to propagate a stereotypical viewpoint of beauty. With sales of over Rs 2,000 crore, Fair & Lovely is the leading face care brand in India and among HUL’s top 5 bestsellers.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
408 26-06-2020 - Indian Society/Covid-19 Updates – ICSE & CBSE boards scrap pending exams for Std X & XII – With Covid cases soaring, both CBSE and ICSE boards have decided to cancel their pending Class X and XII exams, report Amit Anand Choudhary & Manash Pratim Gohain. CBSE told the Supreme Court that scores would be awarded on the basis of combined assessment of marks scored in practicals/ internal assessments and the board papers written. The board said Std XII students would, however, be given the option of writing the remaining exams when the situation turns ‘conducive’. The ICSE board said results for both classes would be based on past performances and there will be no re-exam option for its students.
(Education, Healthcare and Medicine)
409 26-06-2020 - Natural Disasters – Lightning kills 107 people across UP and Bihar in a day – A fusillade of lightning strikes across 31 districts of two states killed 107 people - 83 in Bihar and 24 in UP - amid warnings from meteorologists for people in both states to stay indoors as more thunderstorms are on the radar over the next 72 hours. In Bihar, a total of 23 districts reported fatalities, with Gopalganj accounting for the highest number of 13 deaths, followed by Madhubani with eight. Siwan and Bhagalpur had six deaths each while East Champaran, Darbhanga, Bhagalpur and Banka reported five each. In UP, nine people were killed in Deoria, followed by six in Prayagraj, three in Ambedkarnagar and two in Barabanki. Kushinagar, Fatehpur, Unnao and Balrampur accounted for the rest.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
410 26-06-2020 - World Politics – Moving Europe troops to counter China threat to India – USA – In a statement that pitches the US as a factor in the India-China military faceoff, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said that China’s ‘threats to India’ and Southeast Asia were among the main reasons for the US’s move to reduce its troops in Europe. The decision to draw down troops in Germany was part of a well-thought out strategy because they were being moved to other places, Pompeo told the Brussels Forum. US President Donald Trump recently announced that the US would be reducing troops from Germany, a decision that’s angered EU countries.
(Defence and Military, World Politics)
411 25-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India has 1 death per lakh against world’s 6 – India has one death per lakh population due to Covid-19 while the global average is more than six times at 6.04, the health ministry said, claiming that India had one of the lowest deaths per lakh population in the world due to timely detection of cases, extensive contact tracing and effective clinical management. On June 2, India’s Covid-19 fatality per lakh population was 0.41, against 4.9 globally. Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) expanded the network of laboratories across the country to 1,000 to test for Covid-19. This includes 730 government labs and 270 in the private sector.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
412 25-06-2020 - Indian Economy – IMF sees 4.5% contraction for India in 2020-21 – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday forecast India’s economy to contract 4.5% in 2020-21, a drastic reduction from its April estimate of 1.9% expansion, as the coronavirus pandemic induced lockdown takes a heavy toll on Asia’s third-largest economy. It said global growth is projected at –4.9% in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below the April 2020 World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast.
(Indian Economy)
413 25-06-2020 - Natural Disasters – At least 5 dead, several feared trapped as 7.4 quake strikes southern Mexico – A powerful earthquake centered on Mexico’s Pacific coast shook southern and central Mexico, killing at least five people. The magnitude 7.4 quake struck about 40 miles from the beach resort of Huatulco in Oaxaca state, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The same region was battered by a deadly quake in 2017. At least five people died and several more were injured, according to Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat. He said rescuers were responding to reports of 15 people trapped under rubble in a small mountain town that was difficult to access. Mexico’s civil protection agency said at least three hospitals had been damaged and sections of four highways had been wiped out by landslides triggered by the earthquake.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
414 25-06-2020 - World Politics – Trump’s H-1B order a ‘gift to China’ – President Trump’s executive order suspending green cards and visas for a range of foreign guest workers is being described as “gift to China”, even as India is identified the country that will suffer most from the action. The move has also brought the extreme right and left of the US political spectrum on the same page, while pitting Republican lawmakers and White House principals against each other. Shock waves from the presidential decree continued to cascade across US industry, business, and the political arena, even as thousands of foreign professionals found their future upturned, and in some cases, families separated. There were several instances of dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders appealing to US authorities to facilitate their return and re-entry to America after being stuck in India during emergency visits.
(World Politics)
415 25-06-2020 - India: Social – 64% of parents in favour of online classes for kids: Study –  According to a survey conducted across 204 districts, 64% of parents are in favour of online classes in schools as against 31% wanting a ban on them. So far three states — Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh — have banned online classes for students of class V and below. The ministry of human resource development (MHRD) is yet to issue any guidelines on online education and school reopening. A community social media platform, conducted a nationwide survey to get the pulse of the parents and grandparents on this issue, where they were asked what should be the way forward on this.
(Education)
416 25-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Spike in production brings down cost of PPE, test kits by 70% – A spurt in production has resulted in a near 70% crash in prices of personal protection equipment (PPE) kits and RT-PCR or Covid test kits. PPE kit prices of 100 GSM (gross square metre) have crashed in select markets to Rs 168 apiece from Rs 600 a few weeks ago, and those of RT-PCR testing kits have dropped to Rs 600 from nearly Rs 1,700 earlier. We are in a situation where supply is significantly more than the demand. There are multiple standards of PPEs depending on their use. Supplies to the government are now happening around Rs 300 a kit while it was nearly Rs 850 to Rs 900 a couple of months ago. The highquality products are down to Rs 800 a kit from Rs 1,200.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
417 25-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Hinduja brothers spar over letter on $11bn wealth – A letter signed by the four Hinduja brothers is at the centre of a legal dispute over the future of the family’s $11.2 billion fortune. The 2014 document says that the assets held by one brother belong to all, and that each man will appoint the others as their executors. But now Srichand Hinduja, 84, the patriarch of the family, and his daughter, Vinoo, want the letter to be declared worthless. The dispute between the UK-based family came to light in a ruling delivered by a London judge, who said the three other brothers, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok, tried to use the letter to take control of Hinduja Bank — an asset that was in Srichand’s sole name. Srichand and Vinoo want the London court to rule that the letter should have “no legal effect” and cannot be used as a will, the judge said.
(Indian Economy)
418 25-06-2020 - Indian Society – TB still a bigger killer than Covid in India – India recorded 24 lakh tuberculosis cases and over 79,000 deaths due to the disease in 2019. The numbers, while considerably lower than WHO estimates, translate into roughly 20,000 deaths every quarter. In comparison, Covid has killed around 15,000 people over the last three-and-a-half months. The 24 lakh cases represent an 11% rise over the previous year and bring the official number closer to WHO’s estimate of 26.9 lakh cases. This gap between officially recorded and estimated cases, often referred to as the “missing millions”, narrowed from over 10 lakh in 2017 to 2.9 lakh in 2019, shows the annual TB report released by the health ministry. The report shows 79,144 deaths due to tuberculosis were reported in 2019, which is much lower than the WHO estimate of 4.4 lakh fatalities.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
419 25-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Corona capital: Delhi overtakes Mumbai count – Delhi surpassed Mumbai in overall Covid-19 cases, thereby becoming India’s worst-hit city. The national capital reported 3,788 new cases, taking its tally to 70,390 — 862 more than Mumbai’s figure. Delhi’s death toll touched 2,365 with 64 fatalities reported. It is, however, significantly lower than Mumbai’s toll of 3,964. The first cases reported in Delhi and Mumbai were on March 2 and 11, respectively. In the next two months, Mumbai’s tally spiked to touch 39,686 by May 31, while Delhi’s count hit 19,844. In June, Mumbai’s daily numbers have been stable, but Delhi’s cases have jumped. The capital reported a record 3,947 cases on June 23. 
(Healthcare and Medicine)
420 25-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – Satellite images, reports indicate PLA’s set up camp at clash site – Latest commercial satellite images and ground reports indicate Chinese troops are back on Indian territory in the Galwan Valley region in eastern Ladakh, setting up a much larger camp with gun positions in place of the observation post that was destroyed by Indian troops in the bloody clash of June 15. The situation in several other sectors in eastern Ladakh remains very tense, with China reinforcing military positions in the Depsang Plains, while continuing to occupy Indian territory on the north bank of Pangong Tso.
(Defence and Military)
421 24-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India has 1 death per lakh against world’s 6 – India has one death per lakh population due to Covid-19 while the global average is more than six times at 6.04, the health ministry said, claiming that India had one of the lowest deaths per lakh population in the world due to timely detection of cases, extensive contact tracing and effective clinical management. On June 2, India’s Covid-19 fatality per lakh population was 0.41, against 4.9 globally. Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) expanded the network of laboratories across the country to 1,000 to test for Covid-19. This includes 730 government labs and 270 in the private sector.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
422 24-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – Chinese General ordered clash at Galwan, says US intel report – Reports of senior PLA officer Gen Zhao Zongqi, in charge of China’s western theatre command, approving the assault on Indian troops at Galwan Valley on the night of June 15 has sparked a fresh discussion over the predetermined attack and motives behind the aggressive act. According to a report in the US News, which had previously reported that the Chinese side had sustained significant casualties in the Galwan clash, the US intelligence did not see the incident as a spontaneous clash. Gen Zhao, seen to have been involved in the 2017 Doklam stand-off, is seen as a key player.
(Defence and Military)
423 24-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Germany slaps curbs on 3.7L people, UK set for reopening – Three months after reluctantly and belatedly imposing a lockdown in Britain, PM Boris Johnson announced that he would lift many restrictions — most significantly, cutting the required social distance between people in half, to one metre, or about three feet. Across the Channel, Germany slapped new curbs after over 1,550 people tested positive at the Toennies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck. Officials have restricted movement in the district of roughly 3,70,000 people. Nations around the world are struggling to contain a surge of infections as lockdowns eased. 
(Healthcare and Medicine)
424 24-06-2020 - World Politics – US industry, tech cos slam Trump move to curtail H-1B – Industry leaders and executives of US giants from Amazon and Apple to Tesla and Twitter slammed President Trump’s executive order on the suspension of green card processing and freezing work visas for foreign workers, warning that the move will set back American innovation and competitiveness. Advocates of a hardline nativist immigration policy celebrated the presidential decree, although some complained that it did not go far enough. The US chamber of commerce, which is typically Republican-leaning, led the criticism, warning that “restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation”.
(World Politics)
425 24-06-2020 - India: Social – 64% of parents in favour of online classes for kids: Study –  According to a survey conducted across 204 districts, 64% of parents are in favour of online classes in schools as against 31% wanting a ban on them. So far three states — Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh — have banned online classes for students of class V and below. The ministry of human resource development (MHRD) is yet to issue any guidelines on online education and school reopening. A community social media platform, conducted a nationwide survey to get the pulse of the parents and grandparents on this issue, where they were asked what should be the way forward on this.
(Education)
426 24-06-2020 - Bihar LA Elections – RJD in trouble as 5 MLCs join JD(U), co-founder quits post – Bihar’s main opposition party RJD suffered a double whammy with one of its founders, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, quitting the vice-president’s post and five of its total eight MLCs forming a separate group and merging with the ruling JD(U). The five MLCs together account for two-third of RJD’s strength in the Upper House, which is the required number to split a party to escape the provisions of the anti-defection law. RJD is now left with just three members in the Upper House, including former CM Rabri Devi, Ram Chandra Purbey and Subodh Kumar.
(Indian Politics)
427 24-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Jobs returning, unemployment rate back at pre-lockdown levels – The unemployment rate fell to its pre-lockdown level of 8.5% in the week ended June 21, led by big gains in the rural areas, according to economic think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). The rate had gone up from 8.75% in March to 23.5% in April and May. It had peaked at 27.1% in the week ended May 3. The CMIE survey showed the employment gains in rural areas may even be bigger in the months ahead. The latest data on the jobs front provides huge relief to the government that has been grappling with job losses following the coronavirus pandemic. In the first three weeks of June, the unemployment rate dropped dramatically to 17.5%, then 11.6% and now 8.5%, according to the CMIE survey, as more towns and cities emerge from the lockdown and economic activity starts gathering pace.
(Indian Economy)
428 24-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Colour codes likely for desi, foreign products – With an eye on Chinese products, the government is looking to mandate separate colour codes for all domestic and foreign-made goods, on the lines of green and red dots for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food items, while separately summoning e-commerce players to insist on immediate disclosure of the source of products sold on their platforms, along with the local value-addition details. The colour code could be orange or saffron for made-in-India goods.
(Indian Economy)
429 24-06-2020 - India-Pak Relations – India downgrades Pak ties, halves mission staff – The already stuttering India-Pakistan ties took another hit with Delhi asking Islamabad to reduce its staff at the high commission by 50% (55 from 110 in 7 days), following the expulsion of Pakistani officials for espionage and the subsequent intimidation of Indian diplomatic consular officials at the hands of the ISI in Islamabad. The last time India asked for a similar reduction of staff was on December 27, 2001, exactly two weeks after the Jaish-e-Mohammad staged an attack on the Parliament. As was the case in 2001, the government said in a statement that Pakistani officials here maintained contacts with terror outfits. The decision may be read as a signal that India does not see much point in maintaining diplomatic pretences in the face of hostile activities by Pakistan.
(Governance and Institutions)
430 24-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – India, China agree on gradual, ‘verifiable disengagement’ – India and China have agreed on a gradual and verifiable disengagement from their over 50-day troop confrontation in different areas of eastern Ladakh, which will eventually lead to the two sides also thinning out their massive military build-up along the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control. With rival troops remaining on a knife-edge since the violent clashes in Galwan Valley on June 15, the breakthrough on de-escalation came during the 11-hour meeting between 14 Corps commander Lt-Gen Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin. A similar meeting on June 6 had resulted in a “consensus” over disengagement that went awry after the PLA refused to adhere to the pullback plan in Galwan Valley and attacked Col Babu and his men.
(Defence and Military)
431 23-06-2020 - China-Japan Relations – Japan city passes bill to rename disputed isles, a furious China warns of reprisal – China said that it reserves the right to respond to a Japanese city’s decision to rename the administrative area that includes remote islands claimed by both China and Japan and have long been a source of friction between the neighbours. The disputed islands are known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. The row over the uninhabited East China Sea islets may add to recent tension caused by Japan’s criticisms of Beijing’s plan to impose a new national security law in Hong Kong. Ishigaki city assembly in Okinawa, in southern Japan, had passed a bill to change the name of the administrative area covering the islands to Tonoshiro Senkaku from Tonoshiro, from October 1.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
432 23-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Steepest 1-day spike of 1.8L cases globally rings alarm – The lack of global leadership and unity to fight the coronavirus is a bigger threat than the outbreak itself, the head of the WHO said, adding that politicisation of the pandemic had made it worse. The comments by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has faced criticism from President Trump, came as the world reported its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases with infections soaring in Brazil, Iraq, India and southern and western US states. It took over three months for the world to see 1 million virus infections, but the last 1 million cases have come in just eight days.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
433 23-06-2020 - Jammu and Kashmir – Pandit to set up 1st Kashmir multiplex – The last time a theatre in the Kashmir Valley screened a film was in 1999. It was a brief run of a few months. After a 21-year gap, the J&K administration has given the go-ahead to Kashmiri Pandit entrepreneur Vijay Dhar to set up the Valley’s first multiplex. The multiplex is coming up on two storeys of a five-storey 18,000-square feet commercial building at Sonwar in Badami Bagh Cantonment. It will have two screens — one with a seating capacity of 200, the other 150. The eight single-screen theatres in the Valley — Broadway (which Dhar owned), Regal, Firdous, Shah, Neelam, Palladium, Shiraz and Khayam — have been largely shut since 1990. They opened briefly in 1999 but some have been occupied by security forces.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
434 23-06-2020 - Internal Security – Rush arms supplies, India to tell Russia amid crisis – India is set to ask Russia to fast-track contracted weapon systems as well as urgently rush critical spares for its fighter planes, main battle tanks and submarines amid the ongoing troop confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh. Defence minister Rajnath Singh, who left for Moscow on a three-day trip, will also press Russia for air transportation of the spares and related equipment — for Sukhoi-30MKI and MiG-29 fighters, T-90S main battle tanks and Kilo-class submarines — instead of the time-consuming route through shipping.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
435 23-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – Govt to curb pharma imports from China –  The government plans to tighten the regulatory noose around pharmaceuticals imports from China through stricter scrutiny of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), key starting materials (KSMs) for medicines and medical equipments. Higher duties on Chinese products may also be on the cards, top official sources said. These moves gathered pace in the wake of the military face-off between India and China in east Ladakh and the continuing diplomatic tension since then, prompting the government to explore all options to reduce import dependence on China. India imports more than 53 critical pharma APIs, including those used in TB medicines, steroids and vitamins from China.
(Defence and Military)
436 23-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Demand high but work under MGNREGA still at 50%: Audit – A central audit has found it intriguing that the work generated under MGNREGA remains half of the entitled 100 days per household annually despite a noticeable higher demand in states, urging the Centre to order a study on the mismatch. Crucially, the audit has termed the District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (Disha), which oversees the implementation of central schemes in every district, as unwieldy and virtually non-functional. Stopping just short of calling for its disbanding, the audit has urged the Centre to review the body. For years, District Vigilance and Monitoring Committees had the oversight mandate of a handful of schemes run by the rural development ministry but in 2016, they were superseded by Disha, which was charged with monitoring 41 central schemes ranging from infrastructure and power, education and food security to rural development.
(Indian Economy)
437 23-06-2020 - World Politics – Trump admin suspends H-1B, other work visas till yr-end – The Trump administration suspended a range of work visas for foreigners, including all H-1B and H4 (for H-1B spouses) till the end of the current calendar year. Also suspended are L1 visas (for intra-company transfer) and J1 visas (used by doctors and researchers). Executive order by the President, would be temporary, and would free up 525,000 jobs for US workers. But Trump had also issued directions for a broader reform of the visa regime that will replace the current lottery system for 85,000 H-1B visas with a merit-based system that will favour those who are offered the highest wages. This will drive up wage level and skill level. It’ll also eliminate competition with Americans for entry level jobs.
(World Politics)
438 23-06-2020 - India-Pak Relations – US blocks Pak effort to term India terror backer – Pakistan’s efforts, after the UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, to draw a moral equivalence with India on the issue of cross-border terror were nullified by the US, which blocked a proposal to proscribe an Indian by the UNSC sanctions committee. US formally informed all UN Security Council members that it was blocking, and thus terminating, a proposal against an Indian engineer before the UNSC 1267 sanctions committee. Venu Madhav Dongara, an engineer with an Indian construction firm active in Afghanistan, is one of four Indian nationals Pakistan had sought to link with terror attacks on its territory.
(Terrorism)
439 23-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Puri rath yatra can roll, but under curfew: SC – Four days after stalling rath yatras across Odisha, the Supreme Court made an exception for the world famous chariot festival in Puri. However, it ordered that the yatra would be held under curfew with strict adherence to health guidelines and each of the three chariots would be pulled by a maximum of 500 people who have tested negative for Covid-19.
(Constitution and Law, Healthcare and Medicine)
440 23-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – Withdraw from Pangong, de-escalate Galwan, Hot Springs, India tells China – India pressed for the withdrawal of Chinese troops from Indian territory in the Pangong Tso area of eastern Ladakh, while expressing outrage at the “premeditated and pre-planned” brutal violence unleashed against Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley on the night of June 15, during the second round of top-level military talks that spanned 11 hours. India strongly reiterated its demand for restoration of status quo as it existed in mid-April, which would involve People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops pulling back from the “Finger 4 to 8” (mountainous spurs separated by an 8-km distance) area on the northern bank of Pangong Tso as well as de-inducting its military build-ups in areas facing the Galwan Valley, Gogra-Hotsprings, Depsang and Chushul in eastern Ladakh.
(Defence and Military)
441 22-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Apps with Chinese funds face users’ ire – Top Indian consumer-focused unicorns like Paytm, Ola, Zomato, Make-MyTrip and others backed by Chinese capital are facing the ire of consumers. Users are targeting the Google Play Store ratings of these apps, citing their ‘Chinese connection’ even as experts feel that hardware products like smartphones will be harder to discard. Most of these mobile applications have seen over the last one week increasing comments and lowest possible ratings from consumers. Some of the users are even uninstalling the apps as they are backed by China’s largest internet companies like Tencent, Alibaba and Ctrip. But interestingly, all these companies are run by Indian entrepreneurs based out of the country.
(Indian Economy)
442 22-06-2020 - Indian Economy – RBI nudges banks to decide if red-flagged a/cs are fraud – Banks are in a major dilemma over a directive from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that lenders should decide whether loan accounts that have been ‘red-flagged’ as suspicious over six months ago are fraudulent or not.  If banks do not classify these loans as a fraud, they risk being pulled up for being lenient. If they do, they must set aside provisions for 100% of the loan amount within a year, even if a large part of the loan is recoverable. Also, the fraud tag makes it difficult to sell an otherwise sound business.
(Indian Economy)
443 22-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Spain opens border to tourists; Trump wants less testing – Spain reopened its borders to European tourists in a bid to boost its economy. While at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, President Donald Trump said he told the government to reduce testing for the virus, apparently to avoid unflattering statistics ahead of the US election in November. He said the US has tested 25 million people, but the “bad part” is that it found more cases.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
444 22-06-2020 - Global Terrorism – Libyan refugee stabs 3 to death at UK park, cops call it terror attack – Three people were killed and as many seriously injured after a 25-year-old Libyan refugee went on a stabbing spree in a park in Berkshire, 64km from London. Police declared it a terrorist incident. The 25-year-old suspect from Reading was arrested at the scene of the crime on suspicion of murder and he remains in custody. Local media identified the suspect as Khairi Saadallah, a Libyan refugee, who came to Britain several years ago following the civil war in Libya. Deputy assistant commissioner Dean Haydon declared the crime a terrorist incident and said the counter terrorism unit would take over the investigation. Authorities said they were not looking for any other suspects.
(Terrorism)
445 22-06-2020 - US Presidential Elections – Trump’s Tulsa rally ends up as a debacle for embattled president –  US President Donald Trump launched his 2020 campaign with another bizarre speech at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, , where what made headlines was not any party platform or policy pronouncements but thousands of empty seats in the stadium with a capacity of 19,200, after claims that a million people had registered for tickets. For the few thousand feverish faithful who did turn up, Trump served up the usual cocktail of grievances and gripes, painting a dark dystopian picture of how America would go to the dogs if Democrats aka “radical left” won the election. There was plenty of red meat for his base, including his support for a strong military and gun rights, and his demand that other nations stop ‘ripping off’ the US, but there was little by way of coherent policy or practical solutions in a 104-minute long speech.
(World Politics)
446 22-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – India 6th most targeted by Chinese hackers since 2016 – Since 2016, India has been the sixth most targeted country by China-based hackers — right after the US, South Korea, Hong Kong, Germany and Japan. Government sites came under attack most frequently, followed by telecommunications, media, high tech and transportation, according to a report by US-based cybersecurity firm FireEye.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
447 22-06-2020 - Sixth International Day of Yoga – In Covid times, world’s feeling need for yoga more – Modi – Prime Minister Narendra Modi said yoga had emerged as a force for unity and it did not discriminate as it went beyond race, colour, gender, faith and nations. In his message on the sixth International Day of Yoga, Modi said due to the coronavirus pandemic, the world was feeling the need for yoga more than ever. “If our immunity is strong, it is of great help in defeating this disease. For boosting immunity, there are several techniques in yoga, various asanas are there,” he added.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
448 22-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates/Indian Economy – As India works from home, spike in demand for study tables and chairs – Furniture companies, from Pepperfry and Godrej Interio to Transteel and Featherlite, are witnessing unprecedented demand for study tables and chairs as companies continue to encourage their employees to work from home. For Pepperfry, study tables and chairs currently account for 35-40% of its business. Before the lockdown, the category contributed only 10% to our overall business. Office furniture company Featherlite, which saw 80% of its sales from the business-tobusiness (B2B) space, is currently witnessing orders from individual customers take up half of the demand.
(Healthcare and Medicine, Indian Economy)
449 22-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) to go in for door-to-door screening in suburbs – The BMC will launch a rapid action plan from June 22 to control the Covid-19 spurt in the eastern and western suburbs. The plan mainly comprises door-to-door screenings. Fifty ambulances will be mobilised for swab testing in high-risk localities. Also, looking at spiralling cases in highrises, the BMC has taken to online conferencing with the office bearers of housing societies, suggesting precautions and preventive measures.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
450 22-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – Government changes LAC rules to give forces ‘full freedom’ to respond – The armed forces have been given “full freedom” to respond in an “adequate and proportionate manner” to any hostile act in accordance with their judgement after defence minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the Army’s operational readiness along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with the military brass here. India is determined to impose costs on Chinese troops if they attempt any further misadventure on the border. The decisive shift away from the longstanding border management policy to largely maintain “peace and tranquillity” on the LAC gives the military commanders on the ground the leeway to undertake whatever action is required to foil any misadventure by the PLA.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
451 20-06-2020 - Indian Economy – 25% Indians willing to stop insurance premiums: Survey – Over one fourth of Indian policyholders are willing to sacrifice property and life insurance premium payments to ease their financial burden, according to an Asia-Pacific survey by global reinsurer Swiss Re. At the same time, Indian consumers are second-most active in Asia-Pacific in seeking insurance, driven by financial and mental health concerns. Swiss Re conducted a consumer survey after the Covid-19 pandemic began to understand the reaction of consumers to the crisis.
(Indian Economy)
452 20-06-2020 - Indian Economy – RIL tops $150bn mcap as it turns ‘zero-net debt’ co – Reliance Industries (RIL), the most valued company in India, crossed another milestone as it surpassed the $150-billion market capitalisation mark. The achievement came after its chairman Mukesh Ambani said the company had met its “promise to shareholders” by becoming net debt-free ahead of its March 2021 deadline. After a relatively decent start of the session, the RIL stock rallied soon after Ambani’s statement and closed 6.5% higher, giving it an mcap of almost Rs 11.5 lakh crore on the BSE, translating into $151 billion. From sinking to a multi-year low of Rs 868 on March 23 this year, the stock hit a high of Rs 1,789 during June 19’s session. 
(Indian Economy)
453 20-06-2020 - World Politics – US to reduce troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 – The US has committed to make an initial reduction in its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 as part of its agreement with the Taliban, but there is no obligation for America to withdraw troops if the Afghan parties are unable to reach an agreement. As part of its efforts to bring lasting peace in the war-torn Afghanistan and the agreement it signed with the Taliban, the US has committed to make an initial reduction in its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600. The US currently has some 13,000 troops in Afghanistan. This is the level that General Scotts Miller, Commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, had earlier identified as necessary to fulfil his mission.
(World Politics)
454 20-06-2020 - International Relations/ Internal Security – Nepal on its side, China now woos Bangladesh – Just when India-China relations suffered a new low following the recent clashes at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, Beijing seems to be aggressively wooing Bangladesh, a strong ally of India in the neighbourhood, with a host of sops. India-China stand-off at Ladakh has also coincided with Nepal redrawing it map to include some Indian territories, presumable under a nudge from China. While India is working to retaliate to the border violence by China, which claimed the lives of at least 20 Indian soldiers, through various measures mainly to hurt its economy, Beijing has reached out to Dhaka by offering to waive off 97% tariff on 5161 items that Bangladesh trades with China.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
455 20-06-2020 - Archaeology  – 8m-year-old fossil of jumbo found in UP –  A camera trap survey in UP Shivalik range forests led officials and experts to a rare discovery this week. Lying in a shallow water stream just 50km north of Saharanpur city in Badshahi Bagh was an unusually long stone. Upon a closer look, they agreed it was a unique fossil. The 2-feet-long specimen was sent to Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology which confirmed the fossil was the lower jaw of a Stegodon, an extinct relative of the modern Asian elephant, that likely dates back five to eight million years. It’s the first such find in UP’s Shivalik range. The species had tusks that grew 10-12 feet.
(Art Culture Literature)
456 20-06-2020 - Geography, Environment – Solar eclipse to be beamed live by observatory – Nainital-based Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) will on June 21 organise live telecast of the solar eclipse through YouTube, Facebook and digital platform Zoom, science and technology ministry said while issuing ‘do’s and don’ts’ of observing the astronomical event. India will witness annular solar eclipse with the Sun appearing as a necklace of pearls for around 30 seconds during the maximum phase along a narrow corridor running through Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttarakhand. The eclipse will be partial in rest of the country. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon (at the new moon phase) blocks the solar disk partially or completely, leading to partial, annular, or total solar eclipse. An annular solar eclipse (giving appearance of a ring of fire in the sky) occurs when the angular diameter of the Moon falls short to cover up the Sun completely.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
457 20-06-2020 - Indian Politics – House of Elders gets younger as 43 first-timers enter Rajya Sabha – With 43 first-time MPs set to enter Rajya Sabha after biennial elections, the House of Elders is likely to get younger. But the House will also end up losing about 63 terms worth of collective experience. This is because 61 members who are due to retire from the upper House in June have a total collective experience of 95 terms. In contrast, the new incumbents have a cumulative experience of 32 terms, resulting in a sharp decline in collective experience. Against the 61 vacancies created by retiring members, while 42 were filled by MPs who were elected unopposed, elections to the remaining 19 vacancies were held on June 19. 
(Indian Politics)
458 20-06-2020 - Science and Technology – Australia hints at Chinese cyberattack; Japan, Vietnam too riled by Beijing – India isn’t the only country in China’s crosshairs right now. Australian PM Scott Morrison said his government and some private sector entities in the country had been under a sustained cyberattack by a state actor — a hint at China. Last week, Vietnam’s foreign ministry said two Chinese ships had attacked a Vietnamese fishing boat in the South China Sea. The incident happened near the Parcel Islands which China claims as its own. In April, Vietnam had protested after one of its fishing boats was sunk by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near the islands. Reports from Japan indicated that China had placed its vessels near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea for 66 days running to intimidate Tokyo. Indonesia also has been facing similar Chinese bullying. China claims territory from 23 nations, shares border with 14.
(Science and Technology)
459 20-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – No intruder is on our land now, no post in anyone’s custody, says PM – No intruder is present inside India’s borders nor is any post under anyone’s custody, PM Narendra Modi told an all-party meeting convened in the aftermath of the bloody clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley. With all parties offering strong support to oppose the Chinese aggression on the LAC — barring Congress which asked several questions on when and how PLA troops “intruded” across the LAC — the PM asserted that Indian troops took the fight to the Chinese.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
460 20-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – India moves jets, copters to China-facing forward bases – India has moved its fighter jets to forward airbases facing China, even as additional warships have been deployed in the extended Bay of Bengal region, in a clear signal to Beijing that New Delhi is prepared for escalation in the ongoing troop confrontation on the unresolved border. The fresh build-up includes the new Apache attack helicopters, which are “tank killers” with their Hellfire air-toground missiles and rockets, and Chinook heavy-lift choppers capable of transporting howitzers and troops to forward high-altitude areas, being deployed in Ladakh.”
(Defence and Military)
461 19-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Govt: No need for PSUs to pay 96% of AGR due – A week after being slammed by the Supreme Court for unreasonably seeking over Rs 4 lakh crore from various PSUs on the basis of its verdict on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) for private telecom companies, the Centre informed the apex court that it has decided to withdraw 96% of the demand. Appearing before a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that the government had reconsidered its demand as asked by the court and the “dues” of AGR would be taken back. The department of telecommunication (DoT) faced the ire of the apex court on June 11 for raising the demand from PSUs.
(Indian Economy)
462 19-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Fitch cuts India’s sovereign rating outlook to negative – Global ratings agency Fitch revised the outlook on India’s sovereign rating to negative from stable but retained the rating at BBB (minus), saying the coronavirus pandemic has significantly weakened India’s growth outlook for this year and exposed the challenges associated with a high public debt burden. Fitch expects economic activity to contract by 5% in the fiscal year ending March 2021 (FY21) due to the strict lockdown measures, before rebounding by 9.5% in FY22, mainly driven by a low-base effect. 
(Indian Economy)
463 19-06-2020 - Racism issue – Trudeau backs Sikh MP after he is ousted from House for calling a lawmaker racist – Canada’s Indian-origin Sikh MP Jagmeet Singh was removed from parliament after he called a lawmaker “racist”. New Democratic Party head, the first minority leader of a federal Canadian political party, had been trying to win support for a motion recognising the existence of systemic racism in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. When legislator from the Bloc Quebecois, Alain Therrien, refused to support the motion, Singh called him racist, prompting the speaker to eject Singh for the rest of the day.
(Social Issues)
464 19-06-2020 - World Politics – No plans to mediate between India and China over border tension: US – There are no formal plans for US President Trump to mediate between India and China following their border clash, the White House said amid an uproar in Washington over massive concessions he has allegedly made to Beijing on trade and human rights front in order to win a re-election in November 2020. In brief comments on the India-China situation, White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany said Washington is monitoring the situation along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
(Defence and Military, World Politics)
465 19-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Chhattisgarh sees 6th elephant death in 10 days –  Yet another elephant – the sixth in 10 days — was found dead in a village in Chhattisgarh. This time, it’s a tusker, and it was electrocuted in Dharamjaiarh region of Raigarh. A farmer has been arrested for the elephant’s death.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
466 19-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – SC seeks Centre’s reply on Pench tiger’s death – More than two months after a 10-year-old tiger died under mysterious circumstances in the Pench Tiger Reserve, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to submit a reply within two weeks on the cause of the animal’s death. The apex court passed the order while hearing a PIL which alleged that the big cat may have died from Covid-19. Earlier, the Delhi high court had dismissed a PIL filed by Sangeeta Dogra seeking a thorough investigation into the death of the tiger under suspicious circumstances after government agencies clarified that Covid-19 was not the reason. Dogra had challenged the HC order before the SC.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
467 19-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Coal auction starts, PM says business close to pre-Covid levels – Business activity in India is normalising with consumption and demand rapidly approaching the pre-Covid levels, PM Narendra Modi said while launching the first-ever auction of coal mines for commercial mining. The Prime Minister’s statement underlines his government’s intention to allow resumption of more economic activities from next month, something he made clear during discussions with chief ministers by saying it was time to think about ‘Unlock-2’.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
468 19-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Modi to launch Rs. 50,000cr job plan for migrants in 6 states – The government unveiled a Rs 50,000 crore plan to provide jobs to returning migrants spread across 116 districts in six states, a move aimed at blunting criticism over the government’s handling of the migration triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. PM Narendra Modi will launch the plan under the government’s Garib Kalyan Rojgar Yojana through video conference on June 20 from a village in Khagaria district in Bihar where elections are due later this year. The districts have been selected based on surveys conducted by states, with a cut-off of 25,000 migrants to qualify under the proposed mission. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharamana told a news conference that the 125-day campaign will involve “intensified and focused implementation” of 25 different types of works to provide employment to migrant workers and create infrastructure in the rural areas of the country.
(Governance and Institutions, Indian Economy)
469 19-06-2020 - Arts and Culture – SC halts Puri rath yatra, 1st no-show in 300+ yrs – The Supreme Court stopped one of the biggest annual festivals in the world—the rath yatra in Puri, Odisha. The yatra is as old as the 12th century Jagannath temple and the three chariots of the deities have always rolled except for a few years in the 16th and 17th centuries. As the chariots of the deities—Balabadra, Jagannath and Subhadra—were almost ready, the Centre, through solicitor general Tushar Mehta, urged the SC for time to deliberate on the issue. When a bench led by CJI S A Bobde said it would not sit on the last working day before the court goes into summer vacation, the SG requested the court to permit rituals and religious ceremonies associated with the yatra.
(Art Culture Literature, Constitution and Law)
470 19-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – Days after clash, China frees 10 soldiers – Three days after clashes in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh left 20 Indian soldiers dead, the Chinese released 10 Indian Army personnel, including a Lieutenant Colonel and three Majors, from their custody. All 10 persons were released around 5 p.m. after an agreement was reached at the Major General-level talks and they were returned unharmed. Separately, the Army clarified in a statement that there were “no Indian troops missing in action”. In another development, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said the Indian troops, who were outnumbered and attacked by the Chinese side, carried arms. Article VI of the 1996 agreement between India and China on “Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) in the military field along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas” says, “Neither side shall open fire, cause bio-degradation, use hazardous chemicals, conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometres from the line of actual control. This prohibition shall not apply to routine firing activities in small arms firing ranges.”
(Defence and Military)
471 18-06-2020 - Indian Economy – PSBs press accelerator to sanction loans under govt’s MSME package – Public sector banks which are on an overdrive to sell loans under the government’s Rs three lakh crore package for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) before the October 31 deadline have sanctioned an average of Rs 3.75 lakh per borrower to over 8.54 lakh borrower accounts in the last fortnight.
(Indian Economy)
472 18-06-2020 - Indian Economy – RBI moves to tighten rules for housing finance lending business – The RBI proposed a host of changes to the rules that govern housing finance companies (HFCs). These include doubling of net owned funds to Rs 20 crore and dividing all these companies into systematically important ones and the rest. The industry regulator also said that at least 75% of half of HFCs’ net assets should be individual housing loans and proposed that no prepayment penalty should be levied for floating rate loans. According to the RBI, a net owned fund is the total of equity capital, free reserves, balance in share premium account and capital reserves. The central bank also proposed that non-adherence to the new rules should render HFCs to be treated as non-banking finance companies (NBFCs).
(Indian Economy)
473 18-06-2020 - Environment and Ecology – Carbon emissions surging back as countries and provinces reopen – After a drastic decline this spring, global greenhouse gas emissions are now rebounding sharply, scientists reported, as countries relaxes their coronavirus lockdowns and traffic surge back onto roads. It’s a stark reminder that even as pandemic rages, the world is still far from getting global warming under control.
(Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
474 18-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Beijing cancels 1,200 flights, shuts schools over new coronavirus outbreak – Beijing moved on a war footing, cancelling hundreds of domestic flights and trains while ramping up the mass testing of 90,000 people to stem the spread of the coronavirus, as the city reported 31 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the tally to 137. Two airports in Beijing have cancelled 1,255 domestic flights, nearly 70% of the scheduled trips. Beijing currently does not operate international flights. The national railway operator will allow passengers, who had booked train tickets in and out of Beijing, to refund tickets without any extra charges.
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
475 18-06-2020 - COVID-19 Update – Continue free grain scheme, urge 10 CMs –  Government procurement of wheat has scaled a new peak with purchases this year topping 382 lakh tonnes, with the 390 lakh tonnes mark now in sight with two weeks to go for the season to end. The development comes at a time when at least 10 state chief ministers have approached the Centre to continue the scheme to provide 5kg grains to the poor for free to help them combat the dislocation caused by Covid 19. Additional 5kg of free foodgrains under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana are available only up to this month, prompting CMs cutting across party lines pitching for an extension of three months. 
(Governance and Institutions, Healthcare and Medicine)
476 18-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Fatality rate now 3.4%, up from 2.8% at start of June – With the sudden spike of over 2,003 deaths in one day, India’s Covid-19 death rate has risen to 3.36% now from 2.82% reported by the health ministry around a fortnight ago (on June 2). India’s fatality rate is, however, still lower than the global death rate of over 5%, even as officials say more states are likely to reconcile figures of deceased retrospectively following death audits. The big jump in the death toll in just one day was due to Maharashtra and Delhi updating the number with earlier unreported deaths. For instance, Maharashtra reported 1,409 deaths on June 16, of which only 81 occurred on the single day and rest were on account of retrospective reconciliation of death figures taking total death toll in the state to 5,537 or a little less than half of the total for India.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
477 18-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Continue free grain scheme, urge 10 CMs – Government procurement of wheat has scaled a new peak with purchases this year topping 382 lakh tonnes, with the 390 lakh tonnes mark now in sight with two weeks to go for the season to end. The development comes at a time when at least 10 state chief ministers have approached the Centre to continue the scheme to provide 5kg grains to the poor for free to help them combat the dislocation caused by Covid 19. Additional 5kg of free foodgrains under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana are available only up to this month, prompting CMs cutting across party lines pitching for an extension of three months.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
478 18-06-2020 - India-Pak Relations – Pak def brass make unusual visit to ISI HQ , discuss LoC – Pakistan military top brass, including Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the headquarters of Pakistan spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to discuss regional security issues with special focus on the situation of LoC. According to a report by Radio Pakistan, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General (CJSC) Nadeem Raza, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi and Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan visited ISI headquarters in Islamabad. They were received by DG ISI Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid. Salman Masood, the Pakistan correspondent for The New York Times termed the arrival of the CJSC and other service chiefs at the ISI headquarters as an “unusual and unprecedented development”.
(Defence and Military)
479 18-06-2020 - India-China on Diplomacy Table – Premeditated action led to clash, will seriously impact ties: Jaishankar to Chinese counterpart – Premeditated and planned action by Chinese troops was directly responsible for the violence and casualties during the June 15 border clash and this unprecedented development would have a serious impact on bilateral relations, foreign minister S Jaishankar told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday even as tensions simmered along the border. Protesting in the strongest terms, Jaishankar said the need of the hour was for China to reassess its actions and take corrective steps.
(Defence and Military)
480 18-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – India will give befitting reply to provocation, warns Modi; Forces on almost war-like alert along LAC, ready to ‘impose costs’ on China – Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised a befitting reply to the killing of Indian soldiers by Chinese troops in Ladakh. In a sharp response that could intensify the border confrontation, the PM said, “I want to assure the nation that the sacrifice made by our soldiers will not go in vain. India’s integrity and sovereignty is supreme for us, and no one can stop us from defending it. Nobody should have an iota of doubt about this. India wants peace. But when provoked, India will give a befitting reply.”.
(Defence and Military)
481 17-06-2020 - Indian Economy – IMF’s June update may show deeper contractions – The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) assessment of the global economy is likely to show deeper contractions for advanced and emerging economies and may be worse than estimated in April, its chief economist Gita Gopinath has said.
(Indian Economy)
482 17-06-2020 - India: Society – Indians’ screen time rises by 2 hours daily – The daily average screen time of Indians moved up by an additional two hours with work-from-home, school education, entertainment and streaming seeing a massive surge, as the country stayed locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The screen usage of Indians on smartphones moved up from three hours to as much as five hours, and when connected through broadband (Wi-Fi), the screen usage moved up from 2.5 hours to 4.5 hours, according to Ericsson Mobility Report.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
483 17-06-2020 - World Politics – North Korea blows up joint liaison office with South in Kaesong – North Korea has blown up a joint liaison office with the South near the North's border town of Kaesong. The move comes just hours after the North renewed threats of military action at the Korean border. The site was opened in 2018 to help the Koreas - officially in a state of war - to communicate. It had been empty since January due to Covid-19 restrictions. In a statement, South Korea warned it would "respond strongly" if the North "continues to worsen the situation".
(World Politics)
484 17-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – China's capital reimposes travel curbs to stop new coronavirus infections – China sharply ramped up restrictions on people leaving the capital in an effort to stop the most serious coronavirus flare-up since February from spreading to other cities and provinces. The decision to impose fresh curbs and raise the city’s emergency response level back to II from III came as Beijing’s current outbreak rose to 106 infections since June 11. The outbreak has been traced to the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food centre in the southwest of Beijing where thousands of tonnes of vegetables, fruit and meat change hands each day. The coronavirus was first identified in December at a seafood market in Wuhan, capital of the central Chinese province of Hubei, and has since spread around the world, infecting more than 8 million people.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
485 17-06-2020 - India: Politics – 8 activists of Elgar Parishad targeted by spyware: Amnesty –  Nine activists, including eight engaged with the Elgar Parishad case, were targeted by a spyware, which aimed to monitor their communications, according to a report released by Amnesty International. Amnesty could not determine the actor behind the attack. At least three of them were also targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware in 2019.
(Indian Politics)
486 17-06-2020 - India-Pak relations – India’s ‘deepest’ solar eclipse of the century on June 21 – India will witness its deepest annular solar eclipse of this century on June 21, with the Sun appearing as a necklace of pearls for around 30 seconds during the maximum phase along a narrow corridor running through Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttarakhand. The eclipse will be partial in the rest of the country. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the apparent size of the Moon is slightly less than that of the Sun, which leaves the outer rim of the latter uncovered, giving the appearance of a “ring of fire”. During the eclipse, that ring is expected to be very thin as the Moon will cover up to 98.8% of the solar disc, making it the “deepest” annular eclipse of century in India, according to experts.
(Trivia and Miscellaneous)
487 17-06-2020 - India-China Stand-off 2020 – India-China talks on, BRO labourers move ahead for infra work – India and China continued with their military talks, which has already led to some troop disengagement in eastern Ladakh, even as 1,600 workers from Jharkhand are on their way to forward areas in the region to resume work on infrastructure projects of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). Brigadier and colonel-level talks were held at two face-off sites of ‘Patrolling Points 14 and 17’ in the Galwan Valley region and Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh. But the deadlock on the major troop confrontation on the north bank of Pangong Tso continues. Meanwhile, in a clear signal that India will resume its border infrastructure projects in Ladakh, the first lot of 1,600 workers from Jharkhand are now headed for Leh in truck convoys after their train reached J&K.
(Defence and Military, Governance and Institutions)
488 17-06-2020 - Constitution and Law – Respond in four weeks  to disqualification plea: SC to Goa speaker – The SC directed Goa assembly speaker and 10 MLAs including deputy CM Chandrakant Kavlekar, who joined BJP from Congress last year, to reply within four weeks to a petition filed against them. Congress state president Girish Chodankar had approached the Supreme Court pointing out the nearly ninemonth delay by the speaker in deciding the disqualification petitions filed against the MLAs. Chodankar in his plea had cited an order in the Manipur assembly case passed by SC in March and sought a direction to restrain the MLAs from attending the assembly proceedings during the pendency of the disqualification petition. All 10 MLAs had resigned from Congress and joined BJP in July, taking the party’s strength in the 40-member House to 27.
(Constitution and Law)
489 17-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Testing ramped up to 3L samples a day – India has stepped up testing capacity significantly for Covid-19 to three lakh samples per day with a network of 907 laboratories — 659 in the government sector and rest private labs — spread across the country. At present, India is testing around 1.5 lakh samples every day. In the last 24 hours till Tuesday morning, a total of 1,54,935 samples were tested. So far, the daily testing capacity was 2 lakh samples a day. To enhance testing capacity in Delhi, each of the 11 districts shall now have assigned labs for testing samples from the respective districts.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
490 17-06-2020 - India-China Standoff 2020 – 20 soldiers die in worst China clash in 53 years – Twenty Indian soldiers, including a colonel, were killed and several others grievously injured in a violent physical skirmish with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley region of eastern Ladakh, in a massive escalation of the continuing military confrontation in the high-altitude region since early-May even though no bullets were fired. The Indian casualties could go up further because several soldiers have been injured in the clashes that lasted several hours till midnight, while a few are still reported to be missing. Some Indian soldiers were apparently also taken captive by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), who were present in far greater numbers and armed with nail-studded iron rods and stones during the prolonged brawl, but were later released after high-level military talks.
(Defence and Military)
491 16-06-2020 - Indian Economy – Officials push for a revision in GST slabs, hike in levies – It may not be politically palatable, but officials are pushing for quickly reworking GST (goods & services tax) slabs, along with a rise in levies, while correcting the inverted duty structure on garments, footwear and fertilisers to ensure that states and the Centre earn more revenue amid signs of higher economic activity. Several state finance ministers had blocked a move to increase GST on garments and footwear as part of the proposal to correct the inverted duty structure - where the finished product has lower levies than inputs - on the grounds that this was “not the right time” when businesses are demanding a stimulus. 
(Indian Economy)
492 16-06-2020 - Indian Economy – After over 4 yrs, wholesale prices in deflationary zone – Wholesale price inflation entered the deflationary zone for the first time in over four years, reflecting sharp dip in demand due to the lockdown enforced to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Inflation, as measured by the wholesale price index (WPI), contracted 3.2% in May compared to 2.8% growth in the same period in the previous year. This was the sharpest level of deflation witnessed since November 2015, economists said. The government had released some data only for April WPI and did not release the headline number due to the paucity of data, as several units were closed due to the lockdown and could not send responses.
(Indian Economy)
493 16-06-2020 - World: Society– US civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers, says SC – The Supreme Court ruled that a landmark American civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for LGBT equality a stunning victory. The vote was 6 to 3, with Justice Neil M Gorsuch — appointed by President Donald Trump — writing the majority opinion. Trump’s administration had opposed the LGBT workers in the litigation. The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether discrimination “because of sex” applies to gay and transgender workers.
(Constitution and Law, Social Issues)
494 16-06-2020 - US Politics – Amid Covid and racial strife, Trump focuses on grand rally – President Trump boasted that almost a million people have requested tickets for his night rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, amid concern even among his own associates that the event would send out wrong signals both on the health front (due to Covid-19), and in terms of political messaging because of the city’s association with a massacre of blacks. Although Trump agreed to postpone the rally that was initially scheduled for a day known as Juneteenth (June 19), which commemorates the emancipation in 1865 of the last remaining enslaved Blacks in the Confederacy, he has doubled down on holding the event in the midst of a pandemic in a state where there has been an uptick in virus cases — and in a city where scores of African-Americans were lynched by white residents 99 years ago.
(Healthcare and Medicine, World Politics)
495 16-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – Xi’s fortress against pandemic cracks as Beijing cluster grows –  A section of Beijing was locked down as the government rushed to contain a new coronavirus outbreak — an unnerving breach in the capital, which President Xi Jinping had said should be a fortress against the pandemic. City officials said they had tracked down 79 infections in Beijing over the previous four days, including 36 on Sunday. All appeared traceable to the bustling Xinfadi food market. To contain the outbreak, authorities have put about 90,000 people under lockdown in the city of 20 million and suspended planned restart of some primary schools. Inspectors found 40 samples of the virus in the closed market, including on a chopping board for imported salmon. That prompted some supermarket chains to take salmon off their shelves over the weekend, and inspect markets, stores and restaurant.
(Healthcare and Medicine)
496 16-06-2020 - India-Pak relations – 2 Indian High Commission staff abducted, released by Pakistan – Two Indian nationals, employed as drivers in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, went missing for several hours, in a suspected case of abduction by local security agencies. Paul Selvadhas and Dwimu Brahma were, however, later released by authorities in Pakistan after India lodged a strong protest. Upon the release of Mr. Selvadhas and Mr. Brahma, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed in a note that both the drivers were involved in a traffic accident in the morning and were arrested. The initial police report had claimed that the duo were involved in fake currency circulation, though the issue remains unconfirmed by the Pakistan foreign office.
(Governance and Institutions)
497 16-06-2020 - India-China Stand-off 2020 – India-China talks on, BRO labourers move ahead for infra work – India and China continued with their military talks, which has already led to some troop disengagement in eastern Ladakh, even as 1,600 workers from Jharkhand are on their way to forward areas in the region to resume work on infrastructure projects of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). Brigadier and colonel-level talks were held at two face-off sites of ‘Patrolling Points 14 and 17’ in the Galwan Valley region and Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh. But the deadlock on the major troop confrontation on the north bank of Pangong Tso continues. Meanwhile, in a clear signal that India will resume its border infrastructure projects in Ladakh, the first lot of 1,600 workers from Jharkhand are now headed for Leh in truck convoys after their train reached J&K.
(Defence and Military)
498 16-06-2020 - Constitution and Law – Apex court allows merit to breach quota barrier – Merit breached the iron wall of quota as the Supreme Court permitted a Madhya Pradesh OBC woman, who topped the merit list, to join as an assistant professor in geography from posts earmarked for unreserved category women candidates. Madhya Pradesh sets aside 33% of all posts in government jobs, except those in the forest department, for women. This is sub-divided into four categories — unreserved, SC, ST and OBC. For the 84 posts advertised for assistant professors, 26 were reserved for women candidates. Of these, 12 were for unreserved, four for SCs and six each for STs and OBCs.
(Constitution and Law)
499 16-06-2020 - COVID-19 Updates – ICMR nod for antigen-based test kit – The government’s apex research body, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has recommended use of the first antigen-based testing kit for Covid-19 to enable faster diagnosis at lower rates and without laboratory examin