13th May 2020 Current Affairs in English
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13th May 2020
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- PM announces Rs. 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package
- Aarogya Setu app made mandatory for returning NRIs and migrants
- Global Nutrition Report says it has highest rates of inequalities in malnutrition
- GI tag for Jharkhand’s Sohrai Khovar painting, Telangana’s Telia Rumal
- No ongoing face-off or build up of armed troops: Army
- Jaishankar attends seven-nation meet on UN body
- EESL meters help discoms generate revenue in lockdown
- Glenmark initiates phase-3 clinical trials of Favipiravir in India
- Parliamentary panel questions dilution of labour laws
- Prelims Point in News
1. PM announces Rs. 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package
Information in News
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said a new-look Lockdown 4.0 beyond May 17 was in the offing, while announcing an economic stimulus package for ₹20-lakh-crore (estimated at 10% of the GDP), with a clearly defined leap towards economic reforms that will, in his words, lead to Atmanirbhar Bharat, or a self-reliant, resilient India.
- This amount includes packages already announced at the beginning of the lockdown incorporating a slew of measures from the RBI and the payouts under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
- Self-reliance in this sense is neither exclusionary nor isolationist, it is for helping the world, with our actions. In the past whenever we have acted it has impacted the world in a positive way be it solving the Y2K riddle in 1999, or our campaigns against open defecation, tuberculosis and polio.
- The new edifice of this self-reliant India would be based on the five pillars of the economy, infrastructure, demography, technologically driven systems and to strengthen demand and supply chains, with the supply chains being based on local sourcing.
- This package will be aimed at them. It will be aimed at the honest tax payer, at our industry that makes its capital work,
Senior government source said,
- The reforms will keep away from “trickle down” effects and will be bold in scope.
- The emphasis will be as much on governance systems as on liberalising the economy.
- Self reliance in this case will not mean isolation. There is no talk of only a financial stimulus but of a reform stimulus and a mindset overhaul,”
2. Aarogya Setu app made mandatory for returning NRIs and migrants
Information in News
- The Union Health Ministry directed that downloading it be made compulsory for all returnees (migrant labourers and those coming from abroad) for better contact surveillance and suitable medical intervention.
- It also asked the States to ramp up surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) or Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) to detect any possible hidden infections at an early stage to ensure timely containment.
- Also directed the States to focus on more effective surveillance, contact tracing, adequate testing and timely treatment of all the returnees, including testing at the point of disembarking, quarantining and offering further treatment.
- The direction comes with an announcement by the ICMR on undertaking a community based sero-survey to estimate the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Indian population.
- Working with the Health Ministry, National Centre for Disease Control, State health departments and key stakeholders, the ICMR survey is being coordinated by its National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE) and National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) in Chennai.
- This household level cross-sectional survey will cover 24,000 adults across four strata of districts on the basis of reported cases of COVID-19. Overall, the survey will be conducted in randomly selected 69 districts from 21 States.
- Sera from these individuals will be tested for presence of IgG antibodies using ELISA test developed by ICMR-National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.
- The results of the survey will provide information about spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection in different parts of the country.
- Besides this community-based survey, Health Ministry is also initiating hospital-based surveillance to monitor the trend of infection in all districts.
- The Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres could be used for screening for hypertension, diabetes and three types of cancers. States should provide preventive medicines and immunity boosters along with testing as and when required.
3. Global Nutrition Report says it has highest rates of inequalities in malnutrition
Information in News
- According to the Global Nutrition Report 2020 , India is among 88 countries that are likely to miss global nutrition targets by 2025.
- It also identified the country as one with the highest rates of domestic inequalities in malnutrition.
- Coming at a time the world is battling COVID-19, which has exposed different forms of socio-economic inequities, the authors have called for promoting equity to address malnutrition.
World Health Assembly identified six nutrition targets
- In 2012, the World Health Assembly identified six nutrition targets for maternal, infant and young child nutrition to be met by 2025.
- These require governments to reduce stunting by 40% in children under 5 and prevalence of anaemia by 50% among women in the age group of 19-49 years, ensure 30% reduction in low-birth weight and no increase in childhood overweight, increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50% and reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.
Global Nutrition Report 2020
- India will miss targets for all four nutritional indicators for which there is data available, i.e. stunting among under-5 children, anaemia among women of reproductive age, childhood overweight and exclusive breastfeeding.
- Between 2000 and 2016, rates of underweight have decreased from 66.0% to 58.1% for boys and 54.2% to 50.1% in girls. However, this is still high compared to the average of 35.6% for boys and 31.8% for girls in Asia.
- In addition, 37.9% of children under 5 years are stunted and 20.8% are wasted, compared to the Asia average of 22.7% and 9.4% respectively.
- One in two women of reproductive age is anaemic, while at the same time the rate of overweight and obesity continues to rise, affecting almost a fifth of the adults, at 21.6% of women and 17.8% of men.
- India is identified as among the three worst countries, along with Nigeria and Indonesia, for steep within-country disparities on stunting, where the levels varied four-fold across communities.
- Stunting level in Uttar Pradesh is over 40% and their rate among individuals in the lowest income group is more than double those in the highest income group at 22.0% and 50.7%, respectively.
- In addition, stunting prevalence is 1% higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.
- The same applies for overweight and obesity, where there are nearly double as many obese adult females than there are males (5.1% compared to 2.7%).
4. GI tag for Jharkhand’s Sohrai Khovar painting, Telangana’s Telia Rumal
Information in News
- Jharkhand’s Sohrai Khovar painting and Telangana’s Telia Rumal were given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Geographical Indications Registry headquartered in Chennai.
The Sohrai Khovar painting
- It is a traditional and ritualistic mural art being practised by local tribal women during local harvest and marriage seasons using local, naturally available soils of different colours in the area of Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand.
- Telia Rumal cloth involves intricate handmade work with cotton loom displaying a variety of designs and motifs in three particular colours red, black and white.
- It is primarily being practiced only in the district of Hazaribagh.
- In recent years, it has been seen in other parts of Jharkhand.
- Traditionally painted on the walls of mud houses, they are now seen on other surfaces, too.
- The style features a profusion of lines, dots, animal figures and plants, often representing religious iconography.
- In recent years, the walls of important public places in Jharkhand, such as the Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi, and the Hazaribagh and Tatanagar Railway Stations, among others, have been decorated with Sohrai-Khovar paintings.
- Telia Rumal can only be created using the traditional handloom process and not by any other mechanical means as otherwise, the very quality of the Rumal would be lost.
- During the Nizam’s dynasty, Puttapaka, a small, backward village of the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh had about 20 families engaged in handloom weaving, who were patronised by rich Muslim families and the Nizam rulers.
- The officers working in the court of the Nizam would wear the Chituki Telia Rumal as a symbolic representation of status.
- It is offered at the dargah of Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan, with some devotees offering 50 or even 100 cloths.
- It was worn as a veil by princesses at the erstwhile court of the Nizam of Hyderabad; and as a turban cloth by Arabs in the Middle East.
5. No ongoing face-off or build up of armed troops: Army
Information in News
- Helicopters of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) came close to the border during the face-off with the Indian Army near Pangong Tso lake in Eastern Ladakh last week, but there was no air space violation on either side, Indian Air Force (IAF) sources said.
- IAF SU-30MKI fighters were airborne in Ladakh on routine flying and were not scrambled in response to the helicopters.
- There were two incidents of face-off between Indian and Chinese troops last week which resulted in injuries to several soldiers on both sides. The first incident occurred on May 5 near Pangong Tso in Eastern Ladakh while the second face-off occurred on May 9 at Naku La in Sikkim.
- Pangong Tso has seen such several incidents in the past including in 2017 and in 2019.
Aircraft restricted Agreement
- As per existing agreements between India and China, operation of fighter aircraft and armed helicopters is restricted to a distance from the LAC.
- According to the ‘Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the LAC in India-China Border Area’ of 1996, “combat aircraft (to include fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, military trainer, armed helicopter and other armed aircraft) shall not fly within 10 km of the LAC.”
6. Jaishankar attends seven-nation meet on UN body
Information in News
India, which is set to take over as the next Chairperson of the World Health Organisation’s decision-making executive body in May, is faced with a major choice on whether to support a U.S. move to reinstate Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) or to China’s opposition to it.
- On Monday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar attended a seven-nation virtual meeting of Foreign Ministers of Australia, Brazil, India, Israel, Japan, and the Republic of Korea , convened by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which appeared to be part of Washington’s efforts to gain support for its move to effect changes at the WHO.
- On Wednesday, Mr. Jaishankar will take part in a virtual meeting of the 8-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) led by China and Russia, which will discuss responses to the pandemic. The meeting was held on the same day the U.S. Senate passed an Act (S.249) to “direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization”, beginning with its decision-making body, the WHA.
- The Geneva-based WHA will hold a virtual meeting on May 18 and 19 to elect members to the 34-nation Executive Board, among other things, and it will be followed by a Board meeting on May 22.
India is likely to hold the post for the next three years. The timing of the appointment is crucial, given the worldwide debate on the role of the WHO during the pandemic, and criticism of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
7. EESL meters help discoms generate revenue in lockdown
Information in News
- State-owned Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has enabled cash-strapped discoms in generating around 95% of billing efficiency by using smart meters and 15-20% average increase in monthly revenue per consumer.
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)
- EESL, a PSU under the Ministry of Power, Government of India, is the designated agency to implement the smart metering programme in India.
- Under this programme, a total of 12,06,435 smart meters have been installed till date to enhance consumer convenience and rationalise electricity consumption.
- States such as U.P., Haryana, New Delhi and Bihar have installed 9.84 lakh, 1.23 lakh, 57,000 and 28,000 smart meters respectively.
- With the help of smart meters, discoms in these States have been able to handle their operations smoothly in the time of crisis.
- EESL is also implementing smart prepaid meters under its smart metering programme.
- Smart meters deployed can switch to prepaid mode with a remote button click. At a time when the general populace has to adhere to the social distancing norms of the government, electricity distribution companies have not been able to physically collect electricity bills from consumers, leading to a dip in cash flow.
- Few discoms are enjoying the perks of using the prepaid smart meters. Bihar is the first State to use about 25,000 smart prepaid meters.
- The consumers, on an average, are recharging their prepaid smart meters with credit balance of ₹20 on a daily basis.
- This has resulted in significant benefit of revenue to the State discoms, while other discoms with conventional meters have not even been able to generate the bills.
- Smart meters have been indispensable in the current situation, helping discoms function smoothly, thanks to their ability to remotely monitor and collect meter readings.
- Smart meters help discoms reduce AT&C losses, improve their financial health, incentivise energy conservation, enhance ease of bill payments and ensure billing accuracy by getting rid of manual errors in meter reading.
- In addition to this, consumers get the ability to track their usage and pay their bills easily through mobile phone. It enhances consumer satisfaction through better complaint management, system stability, reliability and transparency.
8. Glenmark initiates phase-3 clinical trials of Favipiravir in India
Information in News
- Glenmark Pharmaceuticals has initiated Phase-3 clinical trials in India on antiviral tablet Favipiravir, for which it received approval from India’s drug regulator DCGI in late April, the company has said in a statement.
- Glenmark is the first company in India to initiate Phase-3 clinical trials on Favipiravir for COVID-19 patients in India.
- Favipiravir is a generic version of Avigan of Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co. Ltd., Japan, a subsidiary of Fujifilm Corporation.
- Favipiravir has demonstrated activity against influenza viruses and has been approved in Japan for the treatment of novel influenza virus infections.
- The molecule, if commercialised, will be marketed under the brand name ‘FabiFlu’ in India.
9. Parliamentary panel questions dilution of labour laws
Information in News
The Parliamentary Committee on Labour has written to State governments demanding an explanation on dilution of labour laws during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- Committee Chairman and BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said any amendments to the law would need legislative sanction. The issue will be taken up, whenever the committee next meets.
- They have utilised two instruments using the executive order or ordinance. Whatever be the instrument, it has to get the sanction of the legislature and subsequently it will be scrutinised in the court of law.
- The Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat State governments have modified labour laws in a bid to attract investments and restart economic activity hit by the nationwide lockdown.
- Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have also amended their Factories Acts and increased the work hours from 8 to 12 hours a day or 72 hours per week.
Prelims Point in News
- The Hindu has consolidated its leadership position as the fastest growing English daily in India with Total Readership (TR) witnessing a growth of 6% and Average Issue Readership (AIR) of 4% over Q3 ‘19, registering the highest growth rate among the top three national English dailies, whereas The Times of India and the Hindustan Times have declined in AIR. As per the Indian Readership Survey’s recent report released by the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) in the fourth and final quarter of the calendar year.
- The Jammu and Kashmir administration has launched a web portal jkmonitoring.nic. To help its residents stranded in other parts of the country due to the novel coronavirus-induced lockdown. It gives updates to those registered and also allows a person to check his application status for facilitating journey back home.
- Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the agency of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.