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Important Current Affairs 29th May 2020

National

NPCI Launches AI virtual assistant ‘PAi’ to create product awareness

• The National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) has launched an artificial intelligence (AI) based chatbot called PAi, to create awareness around its products like FASTag, RuPay, UPI, AePS on a real time basis.

• PAi is developed by Bengaluru based startup CoRover Private Limited. The AI virtual assistant, PAi will be available round the clock to provide accurate information on NPCI products.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman chairs 22nd Meeting of FSDC

• The 22nd Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was chaired by the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi.

• The FSDC meeting featured the participation of senior officers of the Government of India as well Financial Sector Regulators. The participants of the meeting reviewed the measures taken by the Government of India and the regulators in the recent months to maintain the financial stability

International

European Union announces Euros 750 billion recovery fund

• European Union (EU) Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni recently announced that the EU has proposed a recovery fund of 750 billion euros to revive the economy of member countries.

• The proposal came as the 27-nation group has gone into deep recession, which is ravaging the economies of the nations worldwide.

Banking and Economy

ADB approves USD 177 mn loan for road projects in Maharashtra

• The Asian Development Bank on May 27, 2020 approved a USD 177 million loans for road projects in Maharashtra. The projects aim to improve connectivity to national highways, interstate roads, seaports, airports, district headquarters, rail hubs, enterprise clusters, industrial areas and agricultural areas.

• Under the project, around 450 km of state highways and major district roads will be upgraded in Maharashtra.

Science and Technology

NASA postpones its long-awaited launch of American Astronauts to ISS due to bad weather

• The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) postponed the scheduled launch of American Astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil on May 27, 2020 due to bad weather. NASA called off its most-awaited mission minutes before the launch.

• This will be the first launch of astronauts from American soil since 2011. Large crowds had gathered along Florida's Space Coast to watch the historic moment. The launch is a joint operation between NASA and SpaceX.

Sports

36th National Games postponed indefinitely

The 36th National Games, planned for October-November in Goa, was deferred indefinitely. The National Games organising board has chosen to defer National Games.

Days

World Hunger Day

• World Hunger Day is observed globally on 28 May every year. The objective of this day is to raise awareness about more than 820 million people living in chronic hunger worldwide.

• It is observed since 2011 to not only spread awareness about the malaise of chronic hunger but also to solve hunger and poverty through sustainable undertakings.

• The Hunger Project is US based organization committed to the sustainable end of world hunger.

International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

• The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is observed on May 29 annually to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication, and courage and to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

• The day was designated by United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2002 and first celebrated in 2003.The 2020 Theme: Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace.

World Digestive Health Day

• Every year, the World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) is observed on 29 May. It is organised by the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) in collaboration with the WGO Foundation (WGOF).

• The theme of WDHD 2020 is Gut Microbiome – A Global Perspective

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Important Current Affairs 28th May 2020

International

Facebook Launches its Audio-only Calling App ‘CatchUp’

• The internal R&D group of Facebook, the NPE (New Product Experimentation) Team, has come up with a calling application called Catch-Up.

• This audio-only unique app has been developed to coordinate call timings with friends and family members and enables to set up group calls with up to 8 people. The CatchUp app has currently been launched in the United States for testing purpose.

• CatchUp won’t need a Facebook account to use the service and the app works with your phone’s contacts list. Through this app, user will get to know who all in their contact list are free to talk, and which contact is offline.

Banking and Economy

Fitch forecasts India’s GDP growth rate to contract 5% in FY21

• American credit rating agency Fitch ratings has drastically projects India’s economic growth forecast to contract 5 percent in the current fiscal year 2020-21 due to a prolonged .

• This means India’s GDP is estimated to be -5% in FY21.Earlier it had predicted the same at 0.8%

S&P forecasts Indian economy to contract 5% in FY21

S&P Global Ratings has slashed India’s GDP growth rate to 5% in the Fiscal Year 2021. The reduction in the growth rates has been made due to slump in the economic activities in the whole country amid  imposed.

SBI Research Downgrades India’s GDP at -6.8% for FY21

• SBI Research has slashed India’s economic growth forecast in the current fiscal year 2020-21 to contract to 6.8 percent from earlier 4.7 percent.

• This means, as per SBI Research Report, India’s GDP is estimated at -6.8% in FY21.

Science and Technology

NASA renamed its telescope after ‘Mother of Hubble’ Nancy Grace Roman

• US Space agency NASA has announced to name its next-generation space telescop, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), currently under development, in honor of Nancy Grace Roman, NASA’s first chief astronomer, who paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe.

• The WFIRST Telescope will now be called Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (or Roman Space Telescope, for short). It is set to be launched in the mid-2020s.It will be the successor to NASA’s Hubble and Webb Telescopes.

Obituary

Padma Shri awardee, Urdu Writer Mujtaba Hussain passes away

• Noted Urdu author, humorist and satirist Mujtaba Hussain passed away. He was born on July 15, 1936, in Hyderabad, Telangana. Hussain was described as the Mark Twain of Urdu.

• He began his literary career from “Siasat”, a leading Urdu daily published from Hyderabad.

Ranking

AarogyaSetu becomes world's largest contact tracing app

• Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said on May 27, 2020 that India’s AarogyaSetu has become the world's largest contact tracing app, reaching over 11 crore 40 lakh people in just 40 days.

• The Minister tweeted saying that the application is a classic example of coordination between government, industry and citizens. The app was recently made an open source.

• The Health Minister stated that the iOS version of the open source app will be released in the next two weeks. He further added saying that the use of the app is continuously increasing and a large number of people are benefiting from it.

Books and Authors

JK Rowling to release her latest book “The Ickabog”

• The “Harry Potter” author, JK Rowling will release her latest book, “The Ickabog”, online for free, for the children during this  period. The Ickabog’ is a story about truth and the abuse of power.

• Rowling has pledged to donate all royalties when the book is published to “groups who’ve been particularly impacted.”

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Important Current Affairs 27th May 2020

National

AarogyaSetu becomes open source

• The Government has decided to make the AarogyaSetu app an open source to show its commitment towards the core design principles of AraogyaSetu- which are transparency, privacy and security.

• Making the AarogyaSetu app open source means that the government will publish it on a public code repository and release the source code in the public domain. This move will allow developers to inspect the source code of the app and modify it for changes.

• The announcement was made by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on May 26, 2020.

NitinGadkari inaugurates tunnel under ChardhamPariyojana in Chamba

• Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India NitinGadkari inaugurated the 440 metre-long tunnel, constructed below the busy town of Chamba, on Rishikesh-Dharasu road Highway(NH 94) as part of the Chardham Connectivity Project.

• The tunnel has been developed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).Of this BRO is constructing 250 Km of National Highways leading to holy shrine Gangotri and Badrinath.

• The Rs 12,000 croreChardham Project includes construction of National Highway with approximate length of 889 Km, to connect Gangotri, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Badrinath.

Army Commanders’ Conference begins in New Delhi

The Army Commanders’ Conference has commenced in New Delhi. This is the first phase of the conference which has been scheduled from 27 to 29 May 2020. The Army Commanders’ Conference is an apex level biannual event that was earlier scheduled to be held in April 2020.

PFC signs MoU with NBPCL to fund various projects in Madhya Pradesh

• Power Finance Corporation (PFC), the central PSU under Ministry of Power has signed anMoU with Narmada Basin Projects Company Ltd. (NBPCL), a wholly-owned company of Govt. of Madhya Pradesh, to fund various power projects to be executed in the State of Madhya Pradesh.

• The funds of worth Rs 22,000 crore will be deployed by NBPCL for setting up hydroelectric projects of 225 MW along with power components of 12 other major multipurpose projects to be executed in Madhya Pradesh.

Banking and Economy

Worst recession hits India in the current fiscal year: CRISIL

• The research and rating agency CRISIL has revised its forecast downwards again and expects Indian economy to contract 5 percent in fiscal 2020-21. This was 1.8 percent in last prediction.

• This means India’s GDP growth for FY21 has been estimated to be -5%.It also said that the pre- gross domestic product (GDP) rate in India will not be possible for the next three fiscals.

• Extension in , higher economic costs and an economic package are the three basic reasons for the downward revision.

Days

NGMA commemorates 115th Birth Anniversary of Ramkinkar Baij

• The National Gallery of Modern Art organised a virtual tour to commemorate the 115th Birth Anniversary of iconic artist Ramkinkar Baij. The virtual tour was titled as “Ramkinkar Baij | Journey through silent transformation and expressions”.

• The virtual tour was conducted in five different themes namely: Portrait, LifeStudy, Abstract & Structural Composition, Nature Study & Landscape and Sculptures.

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Important Current Affairs 26th May 2020

National

Fintech startup Zaggle joins hands with Visa to launch payment solutions for SMEs, startups

• In order to launch innovative payment solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups, a Fintech startup Zaggle has partnered with payments technology major “Visa”.

• Both the companies will work towards enhancing the productivity and efficiency of the SMEs and startups. They will also automate the processes and reduce the costs simultaneously focusing on easy and faster credit.

India hands over war game centre named as “INDIA” to UPDF

• The Indian Association Uganda (IAU) and Indian Military Advisory and Training Team for Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) have jointly set up military war game centre called ‘INDIA’ at the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College in Kimaka in Jinja District of Uganda with a cost of over 1 billion Ugandan shillings or $2,65,000.

• The centre was inaugurated by the Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Sports

Italy beat Serbia to win the inaugural UEFA eEURO 2020

• Italy has won UEFA eEURO 2020, beating Serbia in the final to clinch the inaugural virtual European Championship.

• Italy emerged triumphant by defeating Serbia 3-1 in the best-of-five series.

• The UEFA EURO 2020 eTournament was the biggest ever national team efootball competition, featuring all 55 UEFA national associations.

American tennis star Jamie Hampton announces retirement

• American tennis player and former world number 24 Jamie Hampton has officially announced her retirement from professional tennis, bringing a sudden halt to her career.

• The right hander player then suffered numerous injuries and was unable to play against Venus Williams in the semi finals of ASB Classic in Auckland in 2014.

Days

World Thyroid Day

• World Thyroid Day is observed globally on 25 May every year. The main purpose of the WTD is to aware of the importance of Thyroid and the prevention and treatment of thyroid diseases.

• The World Thyroid Day was established in 2008 by the European Thyroid Association and the American Thyroid Association.

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Important Current Affairs 24th May 2020

National

LokSabha Passed Mineral Law Amendment Bill

• LokSabha has passed the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which aims to amend Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 along with Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.

• Commercial mining will completely be open up in the coal sector by this bill. Another important feature of this bill is that it intends to remove end-use restrictions to participate in coal mine auction.

Banking and Economy

KKR invests in Reliance Jio for 2.32% stake

• KKR invests Rs 11367 crore in Reliance Jio Platforms to buy a stake of 2.32 percent in a fully diluted basis. The deal is subject to regulatory and customary approvals. This is fifth global investment deal in last one month.

• Earlier, Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity and General Atlantic invested in the Jio Platforms. Know all about KKR-Jio deal here.

Acquisitions and Mergers

IRDAI approves Union Bank to continue with its 30% holding in India First Life Insurance

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India(IRDAI) has approved the proposal of the state owned lender Union Bank of India-UBI(which holds 25.1% stake in Star Union Dai-Chi Life) to continue with its 30% holding in IndiaFirst Life Insurance.

Appointments and Resignations

Indian economist, AbhasJha appointed to key World Bank position in South Asia

• Indian economist, AbhasJha has been appointed as the Practice Manager for Climate Change and  Risk Management for South Asia at World Bank.

• AbhasJha’s appointment comes at a time when Cyclone Amphan has badly hit West Bengal, Orissa in India and Bangladesh.

Ranking

India Became Second Largest Manufacturer Of PPE In The World

• India has become the second-largest manufacturer of Personal Protective Equipment in the world following China which is currently leading producer of PPE in the world.

• At present, India is producing 2.06 lakh PPE kits every day which is the maximum capacity of the country. A PPE kit basically consists of shoe cover, gloves, eye shield, mask, and gown.

Days

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

• International Day to End Obstetric Fistula (IDEOF) is observed on 23 May. The day is celebrated by the United Nations.

• In 2003, the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), formerly known as the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and its partners had launched a global campaign to End Obstetric Fistula.

• The theme for 2020 IDEOF is “End gender inequality! End health inequities! End Fistula now!”.

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Important Current Affairs 23rd May 2020

National

UP Government Signs MoU with SIDBI for ‘UP Start-up Fund’ to Boost Employment

• The Uttar Pradesh government under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has launched the ‘UP Start-up Fund’ on 20 May 2020, to boost job creation in the state.

• The fund will motivate more and more youths to establish their own startups in the state as well as provide employment opportunity to large number of migrant, coming to the state, as per their skill.

• The fund has been set up under the UP Information Technology and Start-up Policy 2017.The ‘UP Start-up Fund’ will be in the form of Fund of Funds.CM Adityanath handed over cheque of the initial contribution of Rs 15 crore towards the Fund, while signing the MoU with SIDBI.

• The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will be the fund manager.

Banking and Economy

NTPC, ONGC to set up Joint Venture Company for Renewable Energy Business

•National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) to set up a joint venture company for the renewable energy business.

•The agreement will enable both companies to increase their presence in the renewable energy sector. Under the MoU, NTPC and ONGC will jointly explore the setting up of offshore wind and other Renewable Energy Projects in India and overseas.

•The two companies will also explore opportunities in the field of E-mobility and ES (Environmental, Social and Governance), storage and sustainability projects.

RBI reduces Repo Rate by 40 bps to 4.0% in Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

The Reserve Bank of India in its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on May 22, 2020 has decided to:

• Reduce Repo Rate by 40 bps to 4.00% from 4.40% earlier.

• Reverse repo rate has been reduced to 3.35%

• The marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate stands at 4.25%

• The MPC decided to continue with the accommodative stance.

Obituary

Four-time Grand Slam singles champion Ashley Cooper passes away

•Former world no. 1 and four-time Grand Slam singles champion, Ashley Cooper passed away recently at the age of 83 after a prolonged illness. Cooper had won three of the four majors -the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US championships in 1958.

•Cooper had also won four doubles titles at Grand Slam tournaments. He achieved the top rank in 1957. The Australian was recognised as the world's best amateur player during the years of 1957 and 1958.

Appointments and Resignations

Assam’s Jahnabi Phookan Takes Charge as FICCI FLO National President

• Assam-based entrepreneur Jahnabi Phookan has been appointed as the new National President of FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) on 22 May 2020.

• FICCI FLO is the women wing of the leading industry chamber, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

• Phookan is the 37th National President of FICCI FLO. She succeeds Harjinder Kaur Talwar.

Days

World Turtle Day

The World Turtle Day is observed on May 23 every year to raise awareness among people to protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.

International Day for Biological Diversity

The United Nations celebrates International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May every year to raise awareness about the issue of significant reduction in biological diversity due to certain human activities.

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Important Current Affairs 22nd May 2020

National

Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana launched in Chhattisgarh

• Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel has launched the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana to mark the 29th anniversary of former PM Rajiv Gandhi. The scheme launched with financial outlay of Rs. 5,700 crore aims to stimulate the economy of rural areas of the state amid the situation.

• The scheme was announced in the Chhattisgarh Budget 2020-21.

Beneficiaries under Ayushman Bharat crosses 1 crore mark

• The number of beneficiaries under the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme has crossed the one crore mark. This was informed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

• Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana-Ayushman Bharat was launched in 2018 by PM Modi as the biggest government-sponsored healthcare scheme in the world.

Science and Technology

Sun goes into ‘Solar Minimum’ state

• Space agencies recently reported that the sun has entered the ‘Solar Minimum’ state and is soon going to make entry into the deepest period of sunshine recession.

• The Solar minimum is currently underway and is a deep one.

Sports

NADA Suspends Power lifters Savita Kumari and Ankit Shishodia for violating anti-doping rules

The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has provisionally suspended Power lifters Savita Kumari and Ankit Shishodia for violating anti-doping rules.

Appointments and Resignations

Crisis expert Carmen Reinhart appointed World Bank Chief Economist

• World Bank Group has appointed Carmen Reinhart as its new Vice President and Chief Economist. Her appointment will be effective from June 15, 2020. She was a Senior Policy Advisor and Deputy Director at the IMF and Vice President and Chief Economist of the investment bank Bear Stearns.

• She has been listed among Bloomberg Markets Most Influential 50 in Finance, Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers, and Thomson Reuters’ The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.

Govinda Rajulu Chintala appointed NABARD chairman, Shaji KV and PVS Surya kumar appointed as DMD of NABARD

• The appointments committee of the union cabinet appointed Govinda Rajulu Chintala as Chairman of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). He was the successor of Harsh Kumar Bhanwala.

• P V S Suryakumar: Suryakumar served as the chief general manager (CGM) of the NABARD, will hold the postof DMD of NABARD till his superannuation on July 31, 2023.

• Presently, Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala is serving as the Chairman of NABARD.

Days

Anti Terrorism Day 2020

• Anti Terrorism Day 2020 is observed on 21st May every year in India. The day marks the death anniversary of India’s seventh Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 21 May 1991.

• He was killed in Tamil Nadu in a campaign by the Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) a terrorist group. After this assassination, V.P. Singh government has decided to observe 21st May as Anti Terrorism Day.

World Metrology Day

• World Metrology Day is observed globally on 20th May every year. Many nations on this day, internationally collaborate to create awareness about metrology and its advancement in the respective field.

• This year theme for World Metrology Day: Measurements for global trade. This theme was chosen to create awareness of the important role measurement plays in facilitating fair global trade, ensuring products meet standards and regulations, and satisfying customer quality expectations.

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Important Current Affairs 20th May 2020

National

Government declares six cities as 5-star garbage-free cities

•  The central government has declared six cities- Ambikapur, Rajkot, Surat, Mysore, Indore and Navi Mumbai as five-star garbage-free cities.

•  The star rating of garbage-free cities was announced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on May 19, 2020. Overall, six cities were rated 5-star, 65 cities were rates 3-star and 70 cities were rated with one star.

•  The Housing and Urban Affairs Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri also launched the revised protocol for the star rating of garbage free cities. The Ministry has now brought importance of sanitation and effective solid waste management to the forefront due to the situation.

•  The star rating protocol was launched by the Ministry in January 2018 to institutionalize a mechanism for cities to achieve garbage free status and motivate other cities to achieve higher degrees of cleanliness.

SCR develops ‘Rail-Bot’ to provide better health care

• South Central Railway zone has developed a robotic device, “RAIL-BOT” (R-BOT) to assist in the functions of hospital management to provide better health care to the patients.

• The R-BOT can be operated by using Android mobile app and radio frequency (RF) remote control. R-BOT is being used to provide medicines, medical accessories, and to serve food to the patients, taking away the need for human contact in such activities.

International

Thomas Thabane resigns as Lesotho's prime minister

• Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has formally resigned more than a week after his coalition government fell apart, in a move that could help end a long-running political crisis in the country.

• Lesotho’s Finance Minister MoeketsiMajoro has been named by parliament as the interim PM of the country.

Japan launches new unit to boost defense in space named Space Operations Squadron

• Japan launched a new space defense unit that will monitor and counter threats to the satellites of Japan.

• The unit is named Space Operations Squadron and is a part of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force. It has started will 20 members and will become fully operational by the year 2023.

• The role of Space Operations Squadron is to monitor and protect Japanese satellites from enemy attacks or space debris.

Banking and Economy

Investment firm Bernstein projects India’s GDP growth for FY21 at -7%

• Bernstein, an investment management firm based in the United States, has projected India’s GDP growth rate for FY21 at -7.0%.

• This means India’s GDP will contract by 7% in FY21 as per Bernstein.

BSE, NSE cut annual listing fee for SMEs by 25%

• Stock exchanges BSE and NSE have announced to reduce the listing fee for their SME platforms by 25 per cent.

• BSE and NSE had launched their respective SME platforms in 2012 and since then have been facilitating SMEs for raising funds, listing and trading on the exchanges.

Goldman Sachs projects India’s GDP growth rate for FY21 at -5%

• The global investment banking group, Goldman Sachs has predicted India’s GDP growth for FY21 at -5.0%. Earlier it has predicted the same at -0.4%.

• It means as per Goldman Sachs the GDP of India will contract by 5.0% in FY21.

RBI extends KYC norms to Housing Finance Companies

• The Reserve Bank of India has announced that the Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines/norms will now be applicable to Housing Finance Companies also.

• It must be noted that the Regulation of Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) was transferred from the National Housing Bank to RBI in August 2019.

• And KYC norms are applicable to all Regulated Entities of the RBI and hence it has now been made applicable on Housing Finance Companies also.

Days

World Bee Day

• World Bee Day is observed globally on 20th May every year. On this date, 20 May, the pioneer of beekeeping Anton Janša was born in 1734 in Slovenia. The purpose of the bee day is to acknowledge the role of bees and other pollinators for the ecosystem.

• About 33% of the world’s food production depends on bees thus they are vital for the preservation of biodiversity, ecological balance in nature and helpful in reducing pollution.

Books and Authors

New book released to mark Ruskin Bond's 86th birthday

• Ruskin Bond’s new book titled ‘Hop On: My Adventures on Boats, Trains and Planes’ was released on his 86th Birthday in an e-book format. The book narrates some of his memorable travel adventures on boats, trains and planes from his childhood.

• The book presents its readers with a number of the author’s hilarious journeys and travel adventures. The illustrations for Ruskin Bond’s new book has been done by SamratHalder.

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Important Current Affairs 19th May 2020

National

National Migrant Information System launched to track movement of migrants

• The central government has launched the ‘National Migration Information System’  to track the movement of migrant workers in India. The portal will ensure smooth movement of migrants who have been stranded in different states/UTs.

• The system has been developed by the National  Management Authority (NDMA).

Madhya Pradesh launches Charan Paduka initiative for migrant labourers

• In Madhya Pradesh, in a first of its kind of initiative, Charan Paduka campaign has been started for the migrant labourers passing through the state.

• Under this campaign, the migrant labourers going barefoot are being providing shoes and slippers to reduce their pain.

International

PM of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu sworn-in for the 5th time

• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally swore in his new government on 17 May for the fifth time.

• The ceremony of the swearing-in of Israel’s new government, the Knesset, was held in accordance with directives.

• Netanyahu will be in power until 13 November 2021. This ended the 18-month political crisis in the country.

• Benny Gantz will serve in the specially created role of alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister.

Cyclonic Amphan (Um-Pun) intensifies into a very severe cyclonic storm

• Severe Cyclonic storm ‘Amphan’ over southeast bay and adjoining southwest bay has intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm as it moved northwards.

• It is likely to intensify further and move in a north-northwesterly direction before turning towards Bangladesh. It may cross Bangladesh coast between Khulna-Chattogram.

Science and Technology

ISRO directs start-ups to build local tech for Gaganyaan mission

• India’s space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has directed the startups to develop tools and machines for its maiden human space flight Gaganyaan-1 mission.

• ISRO focuses to potentially help them build products and solutions that they can exploit commercially.ISRO has identified a set of 17 technologies that to develop locally at lower costs for use in its Gaganyaan missions.

ARCI & SCTIMST jointly develops biodegradable metal implants

International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) and Sree ChitraTirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram have jointly developed new generation Iron-Manganese based alloys for biodegradable metal implants for use in humans.

Appointments and Resignations

Jack Ma resigns from the Board of SoftBank

• Alibaba's Jack Ma has resigned from the Softbank's Board of Directors. The official reason of Ma's resignation has not been revealed yet. 

• Ma's resignation will come into effect on June 25, 2020, on the day of annual shareholder meeting of the Softbank. He served the group for nearly 13 years.

Rajesh Goel becomes new DG of NAREDCO

• Rajesh Goel becomes new director-general (DG) of the Realtors body National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO). Prior to this, he was serving as the chairman and managing director, Hindustan Prefab Ltd.

• He is a professional with over 37 years of experience in leading PSUs under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Books and Authors

A Book titled “Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City” authored by Fang Fang

• The book titled as “Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City” authored by Chinese literary writer Fang Fang is a compilation of online diary entries and social media posts, captures the challenges of daily life and the changing moods and emotions of being quarantined without reliable information & is a remarkable record of the extraordinary time.

• The book was released in India in an ebook format on May 15, 2020, published by Harper NonFiction, the audio will follow on May 26.The book will be translated into 15 languages.

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Important Current Affairs 17th May 2020

National

FM announces 4th tranche of economic support under the AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan

The announcement focusses on reforming 8 sectors which are (1) coal, (2) minerals, (3) defence production, (4) airports and airspace management, (5) MRO, (6) power distribution of companies in UTs, (7) space and (8) atomic energy.

• Coal- Commercial mining of coal on a revenue-sharing basis is being introduced.  Government will introduce competition, transparency and private sector participation through revenue sharing mechanism instead of the current fixed rupee per tonne. Coal Bed Methane will also be auctioned.

• Mineral- To enhance private investments in the mineral sector, a seamless composite exploration -cum-mining – cum production regime will be introduced. 500 mining blocks will be offered through an open and transparent auction process immediately.

• Make in India for  Defence Production- Foreign Direct Investment limit in defence manufacturing under automatic route is being raised from 49% to 74% to boost indigenous defence production.

• Airports and airspace- 6 airports will be put up for bidding by the Airports Authority of India for operation and maintenance on PPP mode.

• Maintenance- Repairs and Operations (MRO)- Tax regime for MRO ecosystem has been rationalised. Convergence between defence sector and the civil MROs will be established to create economies of scale

• Power Sector- Power distribution companies in Union Territories will be privatised.

• Social Infrastructure Projects- Boosting private sector investment in social infrastructure projects through revamped viability gap funding scheme of Rs 8,100 crore. The govt will enhance the quantum of viability gap funding up to 30 per cent each of total project cost as VGF by Centre and state

• Space & Atomic Energy- Private sector will be allowed to use ISRO facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capacities. India to establish a research reactor in PPP mode for production of medical isotopes.

Government of India & AIIB signs agreement to improve irrigation services in West Bengal

• The Government of India, the Government of West Bengal and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has inked a loan agreement worth US$145 million to improve irrigation services and flood management in the Damodar Valley Command Area (DVCA) in West Bengal.

• The loan sanctioned under West Bengal Major Irrigation and Flood Management Project will benefit about 2.7 million farmers from five districts of West Bengal across 393,964 ha area.

• It will provide better irrigation services and improved protection against annual flooding to mitigate the impact of climate change.

AYUSH ministry & CSIR India to Begin Clinical Trial for 4 Ayurvedic Drugs

Minister of State(Independent/Charge) for ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy(AYUSH), Shripad Yesso(Y) Naik has announced that AYUSH ministry & Council of Scientific & Industrial Research(CSIR) are working together to validate 4 Ayush formulations Ashwagandha, Yashtimadhu (Mulethi), Guduchi Pippali(Giloy) and AYUSH-64(poly herbal formulation).

Acquisitions and Mergers

Facebook acquires animated graphics startup GIPHY

• Facebook has announced that it has acquired the animated graphics startup GIPHY. Facebook will now integrate GIPHY in its Instagram visual social network.

• GIPHY is known for its use of stickers and other products using the graphics interchange format or GIFs.

Obituary

Sahitya Akademi winning Bengali author Debesh Roy passes away

• Veteran Bengali author Debesh Roy, who had five decades of career as a writer, passed away.

• He was awarded with the Sahitya Akademi award for his novel ‘Teesta Parer Brittanto’.

Days

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

• The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is observed every year on 17 May since 1969, to commemorate the founding of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

• The theme of 2020 is “Connect 2030: ICTs for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”

• The ITU was founded on 17 May 1865, when the first International Telegraph Convention was signed in Paris.

World Hypertension Day

• The World Hypertension Day (WHD) is celebrated on 17 May worldwide to promote public awareness of increasing high blood pressure (BP) and to encourage citizens of all countries to prevent and control this silent killer.

• The day was held for the first time in May 2005.

• World Hypertension Day (WHD) is an initiative of the World Hypertension League (WHL), an affiliated section of the International Society of Hypertension.

• The theme for World Hypertension Day 2020 is Measure Your Blood Pressure, Control It, Live Longer.

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