Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 25th April 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs:25th April 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

 

Contents:

  1. Swamitva Scheme
  2. World Malaria Day:
  3. H-1B
  4. Draft Electricity Act(Amendment) Bill 2020
  5. International Delegate’s Day
  6. Banking Services made Public Utility Services
  7. Hubble Space Telescope
  8. Other important current affairs

 

1. Swamitva Scheme.:

On the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day 2020 (April 24), PM Modi launched Swamitva Scheme.

  • The Swamitva scheme which is launched in pilot mode in 6 states helps to map rural inhabited lands using drones and the latest survey methods.
  • The scheme will ensure streamlined planning, revenue collection, and provide clarity over property rights in rural areas.
  • This will open up avenues for applying for loans from financial institutions by the owners.
  • Disputes related to the property would also be settled through the title deeds allotted through this scheme.

 

2.World Malaria Day:

World Malaria Day 2020 is being celebrated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on April 25 with the theme ‘Zero malaria starts with me’.

  • World Malaria Day was established on April 25 in 2007 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, WHO’s decision-making body.

Malaria:

  • Caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans.
  • Spread: Female Anopheles mosquitoes deposit parasite sporozoites into the skin of a human host.
  • Four kinds of malaria parasites infect humans: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae.
  • In addition, P. knowlesi, a type of malaria that naturally infects macaques in Southeast Asia, also infects humans, causing malaria that is transmitted from animal to human (“zoonotic” malaria).
  • Malaria is a leading cause of human morbidity and mortality.
  • Despite huge progress in tackling the disease, there are still 212 million new cases of malaria and 430,000 malaria-related deaths worldwide each year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • Most cases (80%) and deaths (90%) were in sub-Saharan African.

 

3.H-1B:

The US President has been requested to suspend the foreign worker’s program, including H-1B as a huge number of Americans, have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • A lawmaker in the US has sought suspension of the H-1B, H4, L1, B1, B2, Optional Practical Training Program, and guest worker admissions.
  • The Congressional Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis has also been urged to take action to protect medical professionals holding H-1B visas because they are essential to confront and combat the current crisis.
  • Due to the loss of revenues, many health centers are closing down which will impact H-1B visa holders currently practicing medicine at these facilities.
  • Indians are the largest beneficiaries of the H1B visas and held three out of four H1B visas as of 2018, data from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) shows.
  • Indians held 309,986 H1B visas as of 2018, which was 73.9% of the total H1B visas issued.
  • Indians comprised 68% of H1B registrations for Financial Year 2020-21, followed by China, which accounted for 13.2%.
  • The latest move will hamper Indians who are working in the US on such visas by decreasing the chances of employment.
  • Earlier, the US temporarily suspended approval of some Green Cards.
  • This step ensures the policy of America First.

H-1B Visa:

  • It is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate-level foreign workers in specialty occupations.
  • The US H1-B visa is designed to be used for staff in specialty occupations. H-1B has an option for green card applications.
  • H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children under 21 years of age to the US under the H4 Visa category as dependents.
  • An H4 Visa holder is allowed to remain in the US as long as the H-1B visa holder remains in legal status.
  • While an H4 visa holder is not eligible to work in the US, they may attend school, obtain a driver’s license and open a bank account while in the US.

 

4.Draft Electricity Act(Amendment) Bill 2020:

Ministry of Power has released the draft Electricity Act(Amendment) Bill 2020 to amend the Electricity Act, 2003 to introduce key Reforms in the Power Sector.

  • Major amendments proposed in the Electricity Act are as follows:
  • Direct Benefit Transfer: It is proposed that tariff be determined by Commissions without taking into account the subsidy, which will be given directly by the government to the consumers.
  • Establishment of Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority: A Central Enforcement Authority headed by a retired Judge of the High Court is proposed to be set-up with powers of the Civil Court to enforce the performance of contracts related to purchasing or sale or transmission of power between a generating, distribution or transmission companies.
  • Establishment of adequate Payment Security Mechanism for scheduling of electricity: It is proposed to empower Load Dispatch Centres to oversee the establishment of adequate payment security mechanism before scheduling dispatch of electricity, as per contracts.
  • Strengthening of the Appellate Tribunal (APTEL): It proposes to increase the strength of APTEL to 7 apart from the Chairperson so that multiple benches can be set-up to facilitate quick disposal of cases. It is also proposed to further empower the APTEL to enforce its decisions.
  • National Renewable Energy Policy: It is proposed to provide for a policy document for the development of electricity from renewable sources of energy. A minimum percentage of the purchase of electricity from hydro sources of energy is to be specified by the Commissions.
  • Cross border trade in Electricity: Provisions have been added to facilitate and develop trade in electricity with other countries.
  • Franchisees and Distribution sub licensees: Distribution Companies may engage Franchisees or Sub-Distribution Licensees to distribute electricity on its behalf in a particular area. However, it will be the DISCOM which shall be the licensee.

 

6. International Delegate’s Day.:

In order to raise awareness of the role of the representatives and delegates of the Member States to the United Nations, the UN General Assembly has proclaimed 25 April as International Delegate’s Day.

  • International Delegate’s Day marks the anniversary of the first day of the San Francisco Conference, also known as the United Nations Conference on International Organization.
  • The 2020 International Delegate’s Day is special for two reasons.
  • First, 25 April 2020 is the first time that International Delegate’s Day is observed.
  • In 2019, the General Assembly proclaimed 25 April as International Delegate’s Day.
  • Second, the 2020 observance also marks the milestone 75th anniversary of the San Francisco Conference, an event that laid the foundations of the United Nations.
  • On 25 April 1945, delegates from fifty countries came together for the first time in San Francisco.
  • Coming together after the devastation of the second world war, their aim was to set up an organization that would restore world peace and imposes rules on the post-war world order.
  • This conference lasted for two months. Two months after the first meeting, on 26 June 1945, the Charter of the United Nations was signed by representatives of the 50 countries that attended the conference.
  • Poland, which did not have a government at the time of the conference, signed the charter later, hence bringing up the number of the Founding Member States to 51.

 

8. Immunity Passports:

The World Health Organization has recently warned against the issuance of immunity passports.

  • The organization is against the concept as there is no evidence till now that people who have recovered from COVID-19 or developed antibodies will not get infected again.

Immunity Passports:

  • Immunity passports are provided to persons that have been recovered from COVId-19 and have tested positive to hold antibodies against the disease.
  • The presence of antibodies according to immunity passports says that the person will not get infected by COVID-19 again.
  • Though the idea of immunity passports has not been implemented widely, several organizations are opposing on adopting the idea.
  • This is because it is unknown how long the antibodies formed against the COVID-19 last in the human body.
  • Also, it is unknown if this strain of the virus is similar to that of the other strains such as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory System).
  • Also, immunity developed helps to protect the person from developing the illness but may not prevent from getting infected.

The countries that have imposed lockdown are now trying to return to normalcy. It would be convenient for the countries when the citizens hold such a pass as that of the immunity passport. This will help in restricting the movement of people actually infected and allow others to lead a normal life.

 

8. Banking Services made Public Utility Services:

The Government of India has declared banking industry as public utility service till October 21. The order has been issued under provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act.

  • The banking services have been brought under the Industrial Disputed Act in order to prevent strikes by the employees of banking sector. The order has been passed by the labor ministry.
  • The Industrial Disputes act, 1947 regulates Indian labor laws.
  • The main objective of the act is to secure harmony and peace in the work culture of Indian Industries. The act applies only to the organized sector.
  • The order was initiated by Ministry of Finance and has then gone to Reserve Bank of India for clarification. Finally, the order was passed and implemented by the Ministry of Labour.
  • There are several decisions of the government that the bank unions do not agree. For instance, several bank unions protested against the bank mergers. The unions did not agree to the merger as they believed that the consolidation of banks will lead to the closing down of branches.

Public Utility Services:

Public Utility Services are those services that operate as a public-service corporation. They provide essential services such as telephones, electricity, natural gas, postal services, and water.

 

9.Hubble Space Telescope:

NASA celebrated its 30 years of launch of Hubble Space Telescope. It is one of the longest living Space Telescopes in the world.

  • The Hubble Space Observatory is run in partnership with European Space Agency.
  • The telescope has played a crucial role in the discovery of accelerating expansion of the cosmos.
  • Also, it was Hubble Telescope that gave the evidence of the existence of black holes in the centers of the galaxy.
  • The Telescope has its own unique design to be repaired and upgraded by the astronauts.
  • This unique feature of the telescope has kept it alive throughout the technological upgradations since its launch.
  • It is the longest living space telescope on the earth.

Other important current affairs:

1. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the annual Ambubachi Mela of Assam has been canceled this year.

  • Ambubachi Mela: The festival symbolizes the fertility cult of goddess Kamakhya.
  • There is no idol in the temple, the goddess is worshipped in the form of a yoni-like stone over which a natural spring flows.
  • Also known as Siddha Kubjika, the goddess is a Hindu tantric goddess of desire who evolved in the Himalayan hills. She is also identified as Kali and Maha Tripura.
  • The festival is also known as ‘Mahakumbh of the East’ as it draws lakhs of devotees from all over the world.

2. On the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day 2020 (April 24), PM Modi launched a unified e-GramSwaraj Portal and mobile application.

  • The e-GramSwaraj will help in preparing and executing Gram Panchayat Development Plans.
  • It will ensure real-time monitoring and accountability and is a major step towards digitization down to the Gram Panchayat level.

3. Recently, cybercrime officials in India have been tracking certain apps and websites that produce nude photographs of innocent people using Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms.

  • Deep fakes or deep nudes are computer-generated images and videos. Cybercriminals use AI software to superimpose a digital composite (assembling multiple media files to make a final one) onto an existing video, photo, or audio.
  • Using AI algorithms a person’s words, head movements, and expressions are transferred onto another person in such a seamless way that it becomes difficult to tell that it is a deep fake unless one closely observes the media file.

4. According to the data published by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), aerosol levels in northern India at the beginning of April were significantly below the normal for this time of year.

  • The levels were the lowest in 20 years of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations.
  • MODIS is a key instrument on NASA’s satellites designed to monitor the Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, and land surface.
  • Data provided by it assists policymakers in making sound decisions concerning the protection of the environment.
    Aerosols
  • Aerosols are defined as a combination of liquid or solid particles suspended in a gaseous or liquid environment.

5. Recently, Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund (one of the largest fund houses in India) has decided to close its six credit risk funds.

  • The reason behind the step was severe market dislocation and illiquidity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • A fund house is a company that invests the pooled money of investors to buy financial securities like stocks, mutual funds, equities, etc.

6. World Immunization Week is being celebrated this year with the theme “#VaccinesWork for All.”

  • World Immunization Week is celebrated annually in the last week of April (24 to 30 April).
  • It is a global public health campaign that aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
  • Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions.
  • However, nearly 20 million children are still unvaccinated and under-vaccinated worldwide.
  • The theme this year is #VaccinesWork forAll. The campaign focuses on how vaccines, as well as the people who develop, deliver, and receive them, are vaccine champions by working to protect the health of everyone, everywhere.

7. The Brazilian Astronomers have discovered 19 new asteroids between Jupiter and the Neptune.

  • The astronomers believe that they joined the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.
  • As the universe began to expand, the sun was born and the gravity of the growing sun sucked these asteroids into the solar system.
  • These asteroids once belonged to another star and are now orbiting between Jupiter and Neptune. The asteroids are orbiting in a plane perpendicular to the planetary motion.
  • They are now a part of “Centaurs” orbiting the sun. Centaurs are a group of asteroids between Neptune and Jupiter.
  • The first interstellar asteroid discovered was “Oumuamua”.

8.Devanahalli Pomelo fruit :

  • Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), which operates the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), is cultivating the Devanahalli Pomelo fruit under its CSR program ‘Namma Ooru’, thereby giving it a fresh cultivation push.
  • The Devanahalli pomelo is a variety of citrus fruit pomelo (Citrus maxima) of the family Rutaceae.
  • It is exclusively grown in the region around Devanahalli taluk of Bangalore Rural District.
  • it is locally known as chakkota.
  • It is protected under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act (GI Act) 1999 of the Government of India.

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