Current Affairs 2020

World Bank and Government of India sign $750 million Agreement for Emergency Response Programme for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises [06 Jul 2020]

The World Bank and the Government of India signed the $750 million agreement for the MSME Emergency Response Programme to support increased flow of finance into the hands of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The World Bank’s MSME Emergency Response Programme will address the immediate liquidity and credit needs of some 1.5 million viable MSMEs to help them withstand the impact of the current shock and protect millions of jobs. This is the first step among a broader set of reforms that are needed to propel the MSME sector over time.

Dr. Bishnu Prasad Nanda has taken over as Director General, Railway Health Services (DG RHS) Railway Board [06 Jul 2020]

Dr. Bishnu Prasad Nanda has taken over as Director General Railway Health Services(DG RHS) Railway Board. He has joined at the apex post of the Health Department in the Railway Board. Prior to this, Dr. B P Nanda was serving as Principal Chief Medical Director, Southern Railway. In Combined Medical Services Examination of UPSC in 1983, Dr.B P Nanda secured All India 1st position and was selected for the Indian Railway Medical Services. DrB P Nanda joined Indian Railway Medical Services on 14th November 1984, in Kharagpur Divisional Hospital of South Eastern Railway.

Indra Mani Pandey was appointed as the next Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Geneva [02 Jul 2020]

Seasoned diplomat Indra Mani Pandey on July 2, 2020 was appointed as the next Permanent Representative / Ambassador of India to the United Nations, Geneva. Mr. Pandey is a 1990 batch Indian Foreign Service officer. He succeeds Rajiv K. Chander by becoming a permanent representative to the UN in Geneva. As a new permanent representative to the UN Mr. Pandey will be responsible for representing India in more than 25 important organisations of the UN in Geneva including UNHRC, WHO and ILO. In his nearly three-decade career M. Pandey has served in Indian missions in Cairo, Islamabad, Geneva, Kabul and Muscat.

Shrikant Madhav Vaidya is appointed as Chairman, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) [01 Jul 2020]

Shrikant Madhav Vaidya is appointed as Chairman of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) succeeding Sanjiv Singh whose term ended on June 30.

Smt. Parminder Chopra takes charge as Director (Finance), PFC [01 Jul 2020]

Government-owned Power Finance Corporation (PFC), India's leading NBFC, announced the appointment of Smt Parminder Chopra as Director (Finance) of the company. She succeeds Shri N.B. Gupta, who superannuated on June 30 2020. Smt. Chopra was working as Executive Director (Finance) at Power Finance Corporation (PFC) before assuming charge as Director (Finance), PFC.With over 32 years of rich and varied experience, she specializes in handling crucial and core finance functions such as fund mobilisation, corporate accounts, banking & treasury, asset-liability management, stressed asset resolution etc. Before joining PFC, she was associated with key organizations in the power sector like National Hydroelectric Power Corporation of India (NHPC) and Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL).Smt. Chopra, who joined PFC in 2005, spearheaded the key initiative to diversify PFC's fund mobilisation to international markets that allowed the lender to raise money at lower costs. With her focussed approach, share of fund mobilisation in foreign currency grew from a meagre 2% to 15% within a short span of 2 years.

PM announces extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana till November [30 Jun 2020]

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the nation and announced the extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana till the end of November 2020. He said that the PMGKAY scheme is extended from July till the end of November 2020. During this five-month period, more than 80 crore people will be provided 5 kg free wheat/rice per month along with 1 kg free whole chana to each family per month. The government will spend more than Rs 90,000 crore towards the extension of the scheme. The Prime Minister also underlined that the country is moving towards the institution of ‘one nation, one ration card’, which will be of immense benefit to the poor who travel to other states in search of work.

Mobile soil testing lab by NFL - Free testing of soil samples at the door step of farmers [29 Jun 2020]

To give further boost to the Soil Testing facility in the country for promoting appropriate use of fertilizers, NFL has launched five Mobile Soil Testing Labs for testing the soil samples at the doorstep of farmers free of cost. V N Datt, CMD along with Directors and senior officials flagged off one such Mobile Lab from the premises of NFL Corporate Office in Noida. These Mobile Labs, loaded with latest soil testing equipment, shall be used for macro and micro nutrient analysis of soil. In addition to this, these Mobile Labs are also equipped with Audio-Video system to educate farmers on various agricultural topics. Other than the Mobile Soil Testing Labs, the company is also serving farming community through six Static Soil Testing Labs located in different parts of country. All these Labs tested around 25,000 soil samples free of cost in the year 2019-20

Statistics Day, 2020 celebrated - Theme: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [29 Jun 2020]

The Government has been celebrating the Statistics Day, to popularize the use of Statistics in everyday life and sensitize public on how Statistics helps shaping and framing policies for the welfare of people. It is celebrated every year on the birth anniversary of Prof. P C Mahalanobis, on 29th June, in recognition of his invaluable contribution in establishing the National Statistical System. This year, due to the global pandemic, the Statistics Day, 2020 was celebrated through video conferencing. It was also live streamed nationally and internationally through various social media channels. The theme of Statistics Day, 2020 was Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)- 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) & SDG- 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls).

Navy Inducts Indigenously Developed Torpedo Decoy System [26 Jun 2020]

Anti - Submarine Warfare capability of the Indian Navy has received a major boost today with the conclusion of a contract for Advanced Torpedo Decoy System Maareech capable of being fired from all front line warships. Design & Development of this anti-torpedo decoy system has been undertaken indigenously DRDO labs (NSTL and NPOL). Bharat Electronics Limited, a Defence PSU, would undertake the production of this decoy system. The prototype of this system installed onboard a nominated naval platform had successfully completed all user evaluation trials and demonstrated the features as per the Naval Staff Qualification Requirements.

Cabinet approves declaration of Kushinagar Airport in Uttar Pradesh as an International Airport [24 Jun 2020]

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for declaration of Kushinagar Airport in Uttar Pradesh as an International Airport. Kushinagar Airport is located in the vicinity of several Buddhist Cultural Sites like Sravasti, Kapilvastu, Lumbini (Kushinagar itself is a Buddhist cultural site) and declaration as an "International Airport" will offer improved connectivity, wider choice of competitive costs to the air-travellers. It will result in boosting of domestic/international tourism and economic development of the regions. Kushinagar is located in the north-eastern part of Uttar Pradesh about 50 km east of Gorakhpur and is one of the important Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

RIL becomes India's first $150 bn company [19 Jun 2020]

Reliance Industries became the first Indian company to be valued at $150 billion. In rupee terms, it also became the first company to be valued at over Rs 11 lakh crore. Reliance Industries is among the most valued energy companies in the world.

India elected non-permanent member of UN Security Council [17 Jun 2020]

India was elected as non-permanent member of the powerful UN Security Council for a two-year term, winning 184 votes in the 193-member General Assembly.Along with India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway also won the Security Council elections.

NHAI becomes first construction sector organisation to go ‘Fully Digital’ [12 Jun 2020]

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) under Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has gone 'Fully Digital', with the launch of unique cloud based and Artificial Intelligence powered Big Data Analytics platform – Data Lake and Project Management Software. The entire project management work flow of NHAI is transformed from manual to online portal based, wherein the complete project execution operations including 'workflow with time lines' and 'alert mechanism' have been configured. All project documentation, contractual decisions and approvals are now being done through portal only.

IIT Madras, IISc Bangalore Bag Top Positions in HRD Ministry's NIRF Rankings [11 Jun 2020]

IIT Madras, IISc Bangalore and IIT Delhi bagged the top three positions among educational institutions in the country in the HRD Ministry's National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2020. As per the annual rankings, the top three universities are - IISc Bangalore, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Banaras Hindu University.

IIM Ahmedabad has been ranked as the top B-School in the country followed by IIM Bangalore and Calcutta. Miranda College bagged the top rank among colleges, followed by Lady Sri Ram College for Women and St Stephen's College. As per the rankings, the top three engineering colleges in the country are IIT Madras, IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay. In the pharmacy category, the top institute is Jamia Hamdard in Delhi followed by Panjab University, Chandigarh. The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research, Mohali stood third. In the medical colleges category, AIIMS Delhi got the top spot followed by PGI, Chandigarh and CMC, Vellore.

Govt of India approves Rs. 1,280 Crore for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in Madhya Pradesh during 2020-21 [10 Jun 2020]

Government of India approved ?1,280 Crore for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in the State in 2020-21. With an amount of ?244.95 Crore as unspent balance and this year's Central allocation and matching State share, ?3,093 Crore will be available with the State this year. Under this life changing Mission, Madhya Pradesh has planned to have 100% Functional Household Tap Water Connection (FHTC) by 2023-24. Out of 1.21 Crore rural households in the State, 13.52 lakh households are already provided with tap connections. The State plans to provide tap connections to 26.27 lakh households in rural areas in 2020-21. While planning for universal coverage of households, priority is given to water scarce areas, quality-affected areas, SC/ ST dominated habitations/ villages, aspirational districts and Sansad Adarsh Gramin Yojana villages, particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.

Javed Akhtar becomes first Indian to receive Richard Dawkins Award [08 Jun 2020]

Poet, lyricist and writer Javed Akhtar has become the first Indian to receive the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award for 2020 for critical thinking, holding religious dogma upto scrutiny, advancing human progress and humanist values.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw named EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020 [05 Jun 2020]

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, founder and current Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Limited, has been named EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year for 2020. Shaw, an authoritative voice in India's pharmaceutical industry, becomes only the third Indian to receive this prestigious award joining the leagues of newly appointed CII President Uday Kotak who won the award in 2014 and Narayana Murthy  Co-founder of India's IT giant Infosys.

Govt of India approves Rs 445 Crore for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in Chhattisgarh during 2020-21 [29 May 2020]

Chhattisgarh State presented their Annual Action Plan for 2020-21 for consideration and approval of Ministry of Jal Shakti. Significantly, Jal Jeevan Mission launched under the Ministry of Jal Shakti is aimed to provide adequate potable drinking water of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis to every rural household of the country by the 2024. A budget of whopping Rs 3.60 lakh Crore has been allocated for this scheme. Under this life changing Mission, Chhattisgarh State has planned to have 100% Functional Tap Water Connection (FHTC) by 2023-24. Out of 45 lakh households in the State, it’s planned to provide tap connections to 20 lakh households. While planning for universal coverage of households, priority is being given to water scarce areas, quality-affected areas, SC/ ST dominated habitations/ villages, aspirational districts, Sansad Adarsh Gramin Yojana villages. Govt of India has approved Rs 445 Crore for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in the State in 2020-21.

CIPET renamed as Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering &Technology [28 May 2020]

Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology (CIPET) has been renamed as Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET), a premier national institution under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Govt. of India. The primary objective of CIPET has been contributing towards the growth of the plastics industry through a combined program of education and research. The Institute has evolved through the years, creating closer ties with industries with the intent to create innovative plastic based solutions which are resource efficient and marketable.

NTPC in pact with ONGC to set up Joint Venture Company for Renewable Energy Business [22 May 2020]

NTPC Ltd. , the PSU under Ministry of Power and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), the PSU under Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up a Joint Venture Company for Renewable Energy business. The MoU will enable both companies to accelerate their footprint in Renewable Energy. The MoU was signed by Shri A K Gupta, Director (Commercial) NTPC and Shri Subhash Kumar, Director (Finance) and In-charge Business Development and Joint Venture, ONGC. The MoU signing activity has been done on Virtual conferencing mode in the august presence of Shri Gurdeep Singh, CMD NTPC and Shri Shashi Shanker, CMD ONGC along with the other Directors and officials of both the companies. As per the MoU, NTPC and ONGC will explore the setting up of offshore wind and other Renewable Energy Projects in India and overseas. They shall also explore opportunities in the fields of sustainability, storage, E-mobility and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) compliant projects.

IASST develops electrochemical sensing platform for detecting carcinogenic & mutagenic compounds in food [22 May 2020]

Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, has developed an electrochemical sensing platform for detecting carcinogenic or mutagenic compound N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA) sometimes found in food items like cured meat, bacon, some cheese, and low-fat milk. It was achieved by developing a modified electrode by immobilizing carbon nanomaterials (carbon dots) in DNA. The scientists pointed out that with changing food habits of urban Indians, they are exposed to harmful chemicals belonging to Nitrosamine family in cured meats, bacon, some cheese, low-fat dry milk, and fish. Such chemicals include carcinogenic ones like NDMA and NDEA, which may also alter the chemical composition of our DNA. Hence it is important to develop detection techniques to detect them.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan elected as Chair of Executive Board of WHO [22 May 2020]

The Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan has been elected as Chair of the Executive Board of World Health Organization for the year 2020-21. This took place during the 147th session of the Executive Board, in a meeting that was virtually held. He has replaced Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan. Accepting the Chair of the Executive Board, Dr Harsh Vardhan paid tribute to the lakhs of people who have lost their lives due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.He requested all dignitaries present on the ocassion to give a standing ovation to all the frontline health workers and other COVID Warriors by saluting their dignity, determination and dedication.

Dr Harsh Vardhan participated in the 73rd World Health Assembly [18 May 2020]

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare participated in the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) through Video Conference.

$1 Billion from World Bank to Protect India’s Poorest from COVID-19 [15 May 2020]

The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a $750 million of $1 billion proposed for Accelerating India’s COVID-19 Social Protection Response Programme to support India’s efforts at providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households, severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This takes the total commitment from the Bank towards emergency COVID-19 response in India to $2 billion. A $1 billion support was announced last month towards immediate support to India’s health sector. This new support will be funded in two phases – an immediate allocation of $750 million for fiscal year 2020 and a $250 million second tranche that will be made available for fiscal year 2021.

JNCASR scientists develop injectable Silk Fibroin-based hydrogel for sustained Insulin delivery in diabetic patients [15 May 2020]

Scientists at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous research institute under the Department of Science and Technology, have recently developed an injectable Silk fibroin-based hydrogel for sustained insulin delivery in diabetic patients. A patent application has also been filed for this invention. Prof. T. Govindaraju and his research team from JNCASR have developed the silk fibroin (SF) formulation using biocompatible additives and prepared an injectable SF hydrogel (iSFH) that can ease insulin delivery in diabetic patients. The iSFH has demonstrated successful delivery of active insulin in rats, and the results have been published in the journal ACS Applied Bio Materials. The JNCASR scientists have shown that subcutaneous injection of insulin with-iSFH in diabetic rats formed active depot under the skin from which insulin trickled out slowly and restored the physiological glucose homeostasis for a prolonged period of 4 days with no risks of low blood sugar through sudden burst of high concentration of insulin into the blood.

DST INSPIRE Faculty from Bhopal develops lightweight carbon foam that can replace lead batteries [15 May 2020]

Dr. Rajeev Kumar from CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute, Bhopal, a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty award instituted by the Department of Science &Technology, Govt. of India, is developing porous carbon materials which have the potential to replace lead grid in lead-acid batteries. It can also be useful for heat sinks in power electronics, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, hydrogen storage and electrode for lead-acid batteries and water purification systems.

International Nurses Day observed [12 May 2020]

The International Nurses Day has been obsearved, which also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. This year is also significant as World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it as the ‘Year of the Nurse and the Midwife’.

Mission Sagar : INS Kesari Hands Over Food Provisions to Maldives [12 May 2020]

As part of ‘Mission Sagar’, Indian Naval Ship Kesari entered Port of Male, Maldives on 12 May 2020. The Government of India is providing assistance to friendly foreign countries and towards this INS Kesari is carrying 580 tons of food provisions for the people of Maldives.

Bengaluru airport voted as best regional airport in India & Central Asia [11 May 2020]

Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport said on Monday it was voted by customers as the best regional airport in India & Central Asia for the third time in four years at the 2020 World Airport Awards. According to the statement, the World Airport Awards are the most prestigious accolades for the airport industry, voted by customers in the largest, annual global airport customer satisfaction survey. The Awards are based on the World Airport Survey questionnaires completed by over 100 nationalities of airport customers during the six-month survey period. The survey evaluated the customer experience across airport service and product key performance indicators.

JNCASR Professor elected as International Honorary Member to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences [01 May 2020]

Professor Shobhana Narasimhan from the Theoretical Sciences Unit (TSU) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, has been elected as an International Honorary Member to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences honours scholars and leaders who have distinguished themselves in the sciences, arts, humanities and public life. The list of previous International Honorary Members includes Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela. Prof Narasimhan heads the Computational Nanoscience group at JNCASR. She has done significant work on the rational design of nanomaterials, examining how the lowering of dimensionality and reduction of size affect material properties. Her work is relevant for a number of different applications, such as nanocatalysts for clean energy applications, and magnetic materials for memory storage. Her group predicted that the morphology and reactivity of gold nanoparticles deposited on oxide substrates can be tuned by doping the support with electron donors or acceptors.

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