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Current Affairs AUGUST 2020 Set 04

Diksha Sharma 15 MINUTES

NATIONAL NEWS

1. IIT Madras-incubated start-up develops portable hospital unit for COVID-19 patients

• Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras-incubated start-up, Modulus Housing, has developed a portable hospital unit that can be installed by four people anywhere within two hours.
• Called 'MediCAB,' it is a decentralised approach to detecting, screening, identifying, isolating and treating Covid-19 patients in their local communities at these portable microstructures.
• 'MediCAB' was launched recently in Wayanad District, Kerala, where the units are being deployed to treat Covid-19 patients. The start-up is developing micro hospitals that can be deployed rapidly across the nation. The Medicab is foldable and is composed of four zones - a doctor's room, an isolation room, a medical room/ward and a twin-bed ICU, maintained at negative pressure.
• Founded by two IIT alumni in 2018, Modulus Housing was supported by IIT Madras Incubation Cell and has a vision to revolutionise housing through modular prefab structures. They have repurposed their designs to support the fight against Covid-19.
• The outcome of this pilot project in Kerala will help in proving the applicability of the technology and advantages of micro hospitals, with MediCAB as an instant infrastructure solution.
• It can be easily assembled in eight hours by four people. When folded, our collapsible cabins are reduced five-fold, making it very cost-effective for transportation.
• Modulus is working on a Dual design where these can be rapidly launched as Covid-19 isolation wards. Post-Covid-19, these can be transformed into micro-hospitals/clinics in Rural India where the medical infrastructure needs to be augmented. Modulus Housing has set up its manufacturing unit at Chengalpet (located about 35 kms from Chennai).
• India has 0.7 beds per 1,000 persons. Innovations such as the MediCAB will help boost the healthcare infrastructure in India as it can be rapidly transported (Six units can fit in a truck). It can be deployed at any time and to any place.

2. NHAI develops mobile App 'Harit Path' to facilitate creation of Green Highways across country

• The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), a PSU under the Ministry of Road and Transport, has developed a mobile App, 'Harit Path' to facilitate creation of Green Highways across the country.
• The App will also be used to monitor location, growth, species details, maintenance activities, targets and achievements of each of the PSU's field units for every plant under the Highway plantation projects.
• Harit Path was inaugurated by the Union Minister for Road and Transport, Nitin Gadkari.
• NHAI had also recently undertaken a nation-wide plantation drive, Harit Bharat Sankalp, under which it planted over 25 lakh plants in 25 days along the stretches of the National Highways across the country.
• Highway contractors have been made accountable for proper upkeep and maintenance of the plantations. Under a unique initiative, the payment to the contractors for the plantation work has been linked with the growth of the plants.

3. Election Commission issues guidelines to conduct elections amid COVID-19 pandemic

• Election Commission has issued detailed guidelines related to key activities for conducting upcoming General Elections and bye-elections in various States and Union Territories during the period of COVID-19 Pandemic.
• The guidelines laid down strict compliance norms to be followed by Candidates and officials conducting the Elections.
• Those found violating the instructions on COVID-19 measures even during the campaign process will be liable to be proceeded against, as per the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. During the campaign process, not more than 5 people have been allowed for door to door campaigning.
• During the road shows, the convoy should have a gap after every set of five vehicles and Public gatherings and rallies can be conducted with strict adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines.
• Election Commission in its guidelines has also stated that the training of election officials should be organized in a decentralized manner at large halls. It has also stressed on online modules of training as far as possible.
• All necessary forms including the Nomination form will be available online on the website of CEO and DEO for the intending candidates. Candidates can even deposit the security money through online mode at the designated platform. During the filing of nomination papers only two persons and vehicles are allowed to accompany a candidate.
• The guidelines state that every person has to wear a face mask during election related activity. Thermal Scanning of all persons has also been necessitated at every entry point. Sanitizers, soap and water shall be made available in the premises.
• Social distancing shall be maintained as per the COVID-19 guidelines of the State Government and Ministry of Home Affairs. The guidelines also say that a maximum of only 1 thousand voters should be allowed in a polling station at a given point in time instead of the current norm of one thousand five hundred voters.

4. MoS co-chairs first India-Uzbekistan National Coordination Committee meeting virtually

• India and Uzbekistan held their first meeting of the National Coordination Committee for monitoring implementation of mutually agreed projects between India and Uzbekistan.
• Both sides comprehensively reviewed the ongoing and planned activities of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, including the status of negotiations for concluding a Bilateral Investment Treaty, Preferential Trade Agreement, mutual market access for agricultural produce of both countries, implementation of identified projects under India's Lines of Credit, cooperation between the state of Gujarat and the Andijan region of Uzbekistan, and the India-Uzbekistan Entrepreneurship Development Centre at Tashkent.
• The Committee was constituted under the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. It was held under the co-chairmanship of Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan, Sardor Umurzakov.
• The MEA further stated that the co-chairs expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in various projects and expressed hope that the expeditious completion of the projects will further strengthen bilateral trade and investment.
• After the discussion, Muraleedharan extended an invitation to Umurzakov to visit India as per mutual convenience.

5. Mumbai goes innovative ; Vocal Testing for COVID detection at Nesco Covid Centre

• After conducting antigen and antibody testing, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is all set to do a pilot of an AI-based voice detection test for Covid-19.
• The BMC will start a pilot project to use voice analysis to detect Covid-19 in 1000 patients at the jumbo Covid-19 facility at NESCO ground, Goregaon Mumbai.
• BMC will do a pilot of AI-based COVID-19 detection test using voice samples. Of course, regular RT-PCR tests will follow but the globally tested technique proves that the pandemic has helped us see things differently & spruce up use of tech in our health infrastructure.
• The results of the analysis can indicate the presence of the virus in 30 seconds, and those testing positive will undergo a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) swab test to confirm if they are infected.
• The suspected patient will be asked to speak where the vice analysis will be conducted. The sample of the voice will be analysed by an app developed by a programme based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The sample will then compare with the voice of a person who is not suffering from Covid-19 to provide effective analysis.
• The app, which has been fine tuned with voice knowledge of hundreds of sufferers with Covid-19 or different respiratory illnesses, will run the affected person’s voice studying in opposition to its database and detect the situation.
• The BMC signed a MoU with Israeli company Vocalis Healthcare for the same. The app can be downloaded to any mobile phone or tablet and neither blood sample nor swab is to be collected during the process.
• The voice analysis test was used in some European countries earlier, including France, Italy to detect Covod-19. It has been revealed from the experiment so far that through the app, Artificial Intelligence has yielded 80 percent correct results through voice check.

6. India's longest river ropeway over Brahmaputra river inaugurated

• India's longest passenger ropeway over the Brahmaputra river was formally inaugurated in Assam's Guwahati city by state finance minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma.
• The 1.82 km bi-cable ropeway connects Guwahati and North Guwahati and has been constructed at a cost of Rs 56 crore.
• The ropeway will operate from Kachari Ghat in Panbazar up to the Dol Govinda temple in North Guwahati and it will cut down travel time across the river Brahmaputra from around 1 hour to 7-8 minutes.
• The ropeway is a twin track, single haul, bi-cable, jig-back system with two cabins. Each cabin, with full safety measures, can carry 32 people (30 passengers and two operators) at a time, with an overall capacity of 250 persons per hour.
• All the world class safety measures have been installed in the ropeway and latest Swiss technologies have been used to make it.
• This is the longest ropeway over river in the country. This ropeway is 1.82 km long across the Brahmaputra river.
• One way of ride will cost Rs 60 and two-way ride will cost Rs 100 to the passenger.
• Overlooking the beautiful Brahmaputra river, the ropeway ride will facilitate the passengers to look out for the Urvashi island and catch a glimpse of the Umananda temple which was built by Ahom King Gadadhar Singha.

7. 500-bed COVID-19 makeshift hospitals to be established under PM-CARES Fund Trust

• The PM CARES Fund Trust will finance two 500-bed COVID-19 makeshift hospitals in Bihar, the Prime Minister's Office said asserting that this will go a long way in improving the COVID care in the state.
• PM-CARES Fund Trust has decided to allocate funds for fight against COVID-19 by way of establishment of 500-bed COVID-19 Makeshift Hospitals at Patna and Muzaffarpur, Bihar by DRDO.
• While the 500-bed hospital at Bihta, Patna will be inaugurated, the 500-bed hospital at Muzaffarpur will be inaugurated very soon.
• These hospitals have 125 ICU beds with ventilators and 375 normal beds each, adding that each bed also has oxygen supply.
• Doctors and paramedical staff for the hospitals will be provided by the Armed Forces Medical Services.
• Bihar, which is headed for assembly polls in a few months, is among the states which have large numbers of COVID cases.

8. Tamil Nadu: First unit of Kudankulam Atomic Power Plant in Tirunelveli district resumes power production

• The first unit of the Kudankulam Atomic Power Plant in Tirunelveli district Tamil Nadu resumed power production.
• Initially, 400 MW power is being produced, which is expected to be increased to 1,000 MW in a phased manner.
• The first phase had been closed down for routine maintenance work last May and Indian and Russian scientists had taken part in the exercise.
• In the meantime, it is notable that the second 1,000 MW unit of the plant , which had developed some technical slag last July, has been repaired and has already started production.
• The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, owned and operated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, was constructed with Russian cooperation and was commissioned in October 2013.

9. Centre asks States and UTs to include all eligible disabled persons under National Food Security Act

• The Centre has written to State Governments and UTs to include all eligible disabled persons under the National Food Security Act, NFSA 2013.
• The Department of Food and Public Distribution has advised all States and UTs to ensure that all disabled persons, who are eligible as per identification criteria of beneficiaries under NFSA, are covered under the National Food Security Act and they get their entitled quota of food grains under NFSA and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana as per provisions of the Act.
• Those not covered should be covered with fresh ration cards to be issued as per the eligibility criteria.
• The Department reiterated that disability is one of the criteria for inclusion of beneficiaries under Antyodaya Anna Yojana households as disabled persons are a vulnerable section of the society. The letter further advised that it is imperative that they are also covered by States and UTs under the priority households as per the criteria of identification evolved by them.
• The Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package of the Government of India is for the persons, who are not covered either under NFSA or any States Scheme PDS Cards.
• The disabled persons without ration cards are also eligible for getting benefits under Atma Nirbhar Bharat package. Since this scheme would lapse on 31st of this month, and there is still one week left for this, the Department requested all States and UTs, that they may identify such disabled persons who do not have ration cards and provide them benefits under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package.
• The e scheme started in May this year and it was presumed that all eligible beneficiaries without ration cards including the disabled persons should have been covered.
• The Department said, it is understood that the ration lifted so far has been utilized by the States for distributing to eligible beneficiaries without ration cards. It requested States to undertake proactive steps in this regard.

10. Uttar Pradesh: CM Yogi Adityanath launches NRI unified portal

• Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched an ambitious NRI unified portal. Yogi Adityanath said that this portal would not only help in investment in the state, but also provide an opportunity for those who want to go abroad.
• The portal would also prove helpful to overseas Indians and NRIs to get their problems with the local administration or the State Government resolved.
• Many people who are living abroad, but are in constant touch with their village and family. Sometimes, they could not find a platform to help their families resolve the problems related to their house and issues with local administration.
• The website - nri.up.gov.in - will also provide a platform for NRIs keen to know about their roots or those seeking help from the UP Government related to their homes or families in the state.
• The NRI department of state will use festivals to connect with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in other countries. The NRI department in the state will be live streaming the Deepotsav festival in Ayodhya during Diwali and then the Holi celebrations in Vrindavan too. Other Uttar Pradesh festivals and cultural events will also be a part of this initiative.

11. Centre constitutes National Council for Transgender Persons

• The Centre has constituted a National Council for Transgender Persons through a notification. The Social Justice and Empowerment Minister will be the ex-officio Chairperson and Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment will be ex-officio Vice-Chairperson.
• The National Council will advise the Centre on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons. It will monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons.
• The National Council will also review and coordinate the activities of all the departments of Government and other Governmental and non-Governmental Organisations which are dealing with matters relating to transgender persons.
• It will redress the grievances of transgender persons and perform such other functions as may be prescribed by the Centre.
• The other members of the Council include representatives of various Ministries or Departments, five representatives of transgender community, representatives of NHRC and NCW, representatives of State Governments and UTs and experts representing NGOs.
• A Member of National Council, other than ex officio member, shall hold office for a term of three years from the date of his nomination.

12. PM Modi pays tributes to Narmadashankar Dave 'Narmad' on his 187th birth anniversary

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Gujarati poet, playwright and social reformer Narmadashankar Dave 'Narmad' on his 187th birth anniversary.
• In a tweet, Mr Modi said he was a visionary creator, philosopher, pioneer of social justice and a proud poet.
• He said, the poet who is considered to be the founder of modern Gujarati literature, introduced his fearlessness and creativity through a magazine called 'Dandio'.

13. CGHS starts tele-consultation services to facilitate consultations with specialists

• The Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) has started teleconsultation services to facilitate consultations by its beneficiaries with specialists through the virtual mode without physically visiting a healthcare facility.
• To begin with, specialist consultations under the services will be available for four specialties --Medicine,Orthopaedics,Eye and ENT.
• The ministry said it has been receiving requests from various quarters, including senior citizen beneficiaries, to start teleconsultation services with specialist doctors in view of the current COVID-19 pandemic due to which it is not advisable for them to visit public places, particularly healthcare facilities.
• Initially, these services will be available to beneficiaries in Delhi and NCR. The e-services are available between 9 am and 12 noon on all working days.
• CGHS teleconsultation services are using the existing e-Sanjeevani platform of the Health Ministry.
• For ease of use, this platform has been linked with the ID of the beneficiaries. For availing specialist OPD services, the beneficiaries are required to register on the platform using their mobile number after which an OTP will be generated for verification purposes.
• After verification, the beneficiaries can log on to the system, fill the patient registration form, request for a token and upload health records (if required), the ministry said.
• The patients will receive patient ID and token through SMS and they will also be intimated about their number in the online queue.
• On their turn, a 'call now' button will be activated and using the same, the beneficiary concerned can initiate a video call with a specialist for consultation.After the teleconsultation, an e-prescription will be generated.
• Using this, the patients can get medicines issued from their CGHS Wellness Centre, the statement said.
• For regular OPD services each CGHS beneficiary is attached to a particular Wellness Centre (WC), although the beneficiaries can avail of OPD services at any WC anywhere in the country.
• For availing consultations with specialists, CGHS beneficiaries get referred by the Medical Officers of their WCs but for senior citizens such referral from the WCs is not required.

14. Diesel loco shed, Visakhapatnam makes room sanitizer to combat COVID-19

• The Indian Railways' Diesel Loco Shed, Waltair Division, in Visakhapatnam, has fabricated a remote control UVC-based room sanitiser to fight against the coronavirus.
• The equipment has been fabricated with locally available resources such as condemned pedestal fan stands and by fixing UVC lamps to a remote control unit.
• The equipment was fitted with wheels for easy movement from one room to the other as per requirement, and it can sanitise a 400-square-foot room in a short span of time.
• The remote control of the device can be operated from 30 metres away.
• For effective usage, it is to be used for 30 minutes in large rooms of 400 square feet, and for 15 minutes in small rooms.
• Two such units are already in use at the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Office and at the Divisional Railway Hospital in Visakhapatnam.
• Till date, the Diesel Loco Shed has been fabricating several instruments such as pedal-operated hand wash basins, hand sanitiser dispensers, paper or file sanitisers, and currency sanitisers that have been supplied to various offices for usage.
• The Diesel Loco Shed has also prepared a hand sanitiser for Railways staff.

15. Ladakh observes first Martyrs Day after becoming Union Territory

• Ladakh has observed the first Martyrs Day on 27th August 2020, after becoming a Union Territory. In a low key programme organised by the Ladakh Buddhist Association, at Martyrs Memorial in Leh, senior leaders of various political parties paid homage to martyrs who laid down their lives in the agitations for Scheduled Tribes status, and Union Territory status to Ladakh.
• Late Venerable Lobzang Tsondus and Tashi Angchuk on 24th January in 1981 for ST status and Nawang Rinchen, Tsewang Dorjey and Tsering Stobdan for the cause of Union Territory status for Ladakh have made supreme sacrifice in the agitations on August 27th of 1989.

16. HM Amit Shah greets BPR&D on its Golden Jubilee Anniversary on 28th August

• Home Minister Amit Shah has greeted the Bureau of Police Research and Development, on its Golden Jubilee Anniversary.
• Mr Shah said, Bureau of Police Research and Development has played a vital role in strengthening India's internal security through research and development. He saluted BPR&D's continuous quest for a robust and modern police system in the country.
• The Bureau of Police Research and Development was raised on 28th August, 1970, with a mandate to promote excellence in policing, promote speedy and systematic study of police problems, apply science and technology in the method and techniques by the Police.
• In the last five years, it has focussed on capacity building of the police officials and has trained about 55 thousand Officers and men.

17. Assam Cabinet approves 'Assam Skill Development University Bill'

• The Assam Cabinet has approved the Assam Skill Development University Bill which provides for setting up of Skill University at Mangaldoi at the cost of 900 crore rupees.
• The meeting held under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in Guwahati also decided to increase the upper age limit for State government jobs for Group III and Group IV for two years so that unemployed youth can apply for jobs upto 40 years.
• Insurance to the tune of 50 lakh rupees to journalists, home guards and all casual employees succumbed to Covid-19 infection while performing their duties was approved during the meeting.
• The Orunodoi Scheme was also given approval to provide financial assistance of 830 rupees per month to families with annual income of less than 2 lakh rupees.

18. Arunachal Pradesh assembly passes resolution to bring state under 6th Schedule

• Arunachal Assembly unanimously passed a resolution for the entire state to be included in the Sixth Schedule of the constitution.
• Chief minister Pema Khandu said that the Sixth Schedule provides protection of tribal people's rights in the Northeast.
• Arunachal unfortunately is the only state left out without any protective provisions for its tribal communities under the Indian constitution.
• "In absence of such protective mechanisms, the tribals in Arunachal face the danger of being alienated from their culture and land," Khandu said.
• The Sixth Schedule besides giving considerable autonomy to the tribal community empowers the council to enact laws for land protection. Even the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) exempts the sixth schedule areas and Inner Line permit areas. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur are under ILP besides there are 10 sixth schedule areas in Northeast India.
• Arunachal Cabinet recently resolved to move the Centre for bringing the frontier state under the purview of the sixth schedule.

19. Dr Jitendra Singh reviews Comprehensive Manser Rejuvenation & Development Plan

• Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh reviewed the Comprehensive Manser Rejuvenation and Development Plan for initiating the process for development, rejuvenation and beautification of Manser Wetlands.
• The plan aims at increasing tourist footfall and boosting the social economic development of Jammu region.
• The Plan includes upgradation of existing facilities and development of new projects with an aim to increase the annual tourist footfall to twenty lakhs.
• The meeting was held through video conferencing with senior officials of the Tourism Department of Jammu & Kashmir.
• A comprehensive Development and Rejuvenation plan of Manser was presented. The meeting was also attended by Advisor to LG Sh Baseer Ahmed Khan.
• Dr Singh emphasized the need for investment from the private sector and said the project is being promoted in a way that the private sector can become a partner in the socio-economic development of the region.
• Once the project is completed, the local economy will get a boost and will open employment opportunities for the local youth especially in the tourism and hospitality sector.
• Dr Singh said that Manser, as a tourist destination, had immense potential for adventure sports, Eco-tourism, sightseeing, wildlife preservation and recreational activities.
• He said that the proposed plan would also include a Birds Gallery and Birds Watchers Lodge.
• He also said that the option of developing a wellness center with the Department of AYUSH at Manser may also be explored so that it can be developed as a popular wellness destination in the UT as well as North India.

20. SC refuses to entertain plea for permission to carry out Muharram procession across country

• The Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea for permission to carry out Muharram procession across the country.
• The apex court has asked Lucknow-based petitioner to move before the Allahabad High Court with his plea.
• The top court said how it can pass a general order for the whole country and if relief was made for a particular area, then the risk could be assessed.
• A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said it would lead to chaos. Hearing the matter through video conferencing yesterday, the bench said, the court cannot risk the health of all the people.
• The bench then allowed the petitioner to withdraw the petition with the liberty to approach the High Court with limited prayer of holding procession in Lucknow.

21. Tripura University scientist designs WARBOT to protect doctors

• In the war against Covid-19 pandemic, doctors and medical staff remained at the forefront of the fight and many doctors have sacrificed their lives while treating and saving the life of positive patients.
• In fact, the doctors and medical staff are at the most risk point to contract the virus as they directly come in contact with patients.
• To extend a big help to the doctors, attending the infected patients, a scientist at Tripura University has designed a robot which can prevent the doctors, nurses and health staff from getting infected while they come in contact with patients infected with the virus.
• The robot is named as Covid-19 WARBOT.

22. India co-sponsors UN security council resolution on women peacekeepers

• India, one of the largest troop contributors to UN peacekeeping operations, has co-sponsored a Security Council resolution that calls for "full, effective and meaningful participation" of women personnel in peacekeeping operations.
• India's Permanent Mission to the UN said "India is proud to co-sponsor" the resolution which was put forth by Indonesia.
• In June, India was elected non-permanent member of the Security Council for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2021. It will serve as the president of the powerful 15-nation UN body for the month of August, 2021. India will preside over the Council again for a month in 2022. India has a long tradition of being associated with UN Peacekeeping since its inception.
• The country made history in 2007 when she deployed the first all-women Police Unit in the UN Mission in Liberia.
• India is the fifth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to the UN Peacekeeping Forces.
• It currently contributes more than 5,400 military and police personnel to the UN peacekeeping operations in Abyei, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, the Middle East, Sudan, South Sudan and Western Sahara as well as one expert to the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia.
• Over the last 70 years, more than 160 Indian military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives while serving in UN Peacekeeping Missions around the world, the highest deaths from any troop-contributing country.

23. PM Modi to inaugurate new building of Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be inaugurating the college and administration buildings of Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University in Jhansi through a remote video conference.
• The agricultural university is an important institute of the Bundelkhand region.
• The Prime Minister will also be interacting with the students of the university.
• The Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University started off its first academic session in 2014-15. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in agriculture, horticulture and forestry.
• The university didn't have buildings however and was operating from the Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute in Jhansi.

24. Centre to develop three Bamboo Clusters in Jammu, Katra and Samba areas of J&K

• Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr Jitendra Singh has said that three Bamboo Clusters will be developed in Jammu, Katra and Samba areas for making of Bamboo basketry, Agarbatti and Bamboo Charcoal.
• He said it will provide direct employment to nearly 25 thousand people.
• Dr Singh said, apart from this a Mega Bamboo Industrial Park at Ghati near Jammu and Bamboo Technology Training Centre will also come up in the region.
• The Minister said this while addressing a review meeting of the Ministry of DoNER on further steps to be taken for augmenting infrastructure and promoting entrepreneurship in the Bamboo sector in the region after the signing of MoU.
• Dr Singh said, a team from his Ministry will soon visit Jammu and explore a field training programme for Bamboo farming in the region.
• The Minister said, of late Bamboo is being used in low cost housing and as construction material. He said, in coming years, Bamboo Awareness camps will be organized in different parts of the country in this regard.

25. Durga Shanker Mishra launches PM Street Vendor's AtmaNirbhar Nidhi, PM SVANidhi online dashboard

• Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra launched the PM Street Vendor's AtmaNirbhar Nidhi, PM SVANidhi online dashboard through video conferencing.
• The online dashboard is dynamic, interactive and will provide a one stop solution to all stakeholders looking for information and tracking monitoring of progress of PM SVANidhi up to city level.
• Since the commencement of online submission of applications on PM SVANidhi portal on 2nd July this year, more than 7.15 lakh applications have been received and over 1.70 lakh have been sanctioned in different States and Union Territories.
• PM SVANidhi was launched by the Ministry on 1st June this year, for providing loans to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been adversely affected due to Covid-19 lockdown.
• The scheme targets to benefit over 50 lakh Street Vendors who had been vending on or before 24th March this year, in urban areas including those from surrounding peri-urban or rural areas.
• Under the Scheme, the vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to 10 thousand rupees, which is repayable in monthly instalments in the tenure of one year.
• On timely or early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy at 7 per cent per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer on quarterly basis. There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan.
• The scheme promotes digital transactions through cash-back incentives up to an amount of 100 rupees per month.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

1. Turkey discovers large natural gas reserve off Black Sea

• Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the discovery of a large natural gas reserve off the Black Sea coast that will help ease the country's dependence on imports.
• Erdogan said the amount of gas discovered is 320 billion cubic meters, a sum industry analysts said was notable but not a "game-changer" that might turn the country into a regional energy hub or materially alter its financial fortunes.
• Turkey hopes to start extracting and using the gas by 2023, when Turkey marks the centenary of the founding of the republic, Erdogan said.
• While the find is significant, it's smaller than other discoveries in the nearby eastern Mediterranean. It's about a third of Egypt's Zohr field, one of the largest discovered in the Mediterranean, which is estimated to hold 850 billion cubic meters, or 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
• The Turkish drilling ship, Fatih, had been carrying out exploration operations in the western Black Sea for the past month.
• The discovery comes as tensions between NATO allies Turkey and Greece are running high over oil and gas exploration in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean.
• Greek and Turkish warships have been shadowing each other after Turkey sent a research ship to look for potential undersea oil and gas deposits. France has also sent ships to monitor the eastern Mediterranean in support of Greece.
• The Turkish ship is scheduled to search for energy reserves there until August 23.

2. Mahatma Gandhi’s iconic glasses sell for $340,000 in UK

• A pair of gold-plated glasses worn by Mahatma Gandhi has sold in Britain for 260,000 pounds (about 288,000 euros, $340,000).
• Mahatma Gandhi was known for giving out old or unwanted pairs to those in need or those who had helped him.
• Mr. Gandhi gave the glasses to the vendor's uncle while he was working for British Petroleum in South Africa during the 1920s or 30s.
• The sale price smashed the original estimate of around 15,000 pounds.

3. Myanmar govt, armed groups sign framework accord for ceasefire implementation

• The government of Myanmar and ten armed ethnic groups signed a framework agreement for the implementation of the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) at Nay Pyi Taw at the end of the 4th session of the Union Peace Conference - 21st Century Panglong.
• The agreement also includes the framework for implementation of various processes beyond 2020, and basic principles to establish a democratic federal union.
• The accord opens a door to solving misunderstanding regarding the NCA and difficulties faced in its implementation.
• The President Office termed the agreement as a great success as it contains a step by step peace process for implementation beyond 2020 in working for peace, democratic reform, federalism and national reconciliation.
• The peace accord called Union Peace Accord III contains 15 provisions to implement the NCA. These include troop deployment, protocol to deal with skirmishes between government troops and the armed groups among others.
• Currently, the 4th round of the peace process is being held between the government and armed ethnic groups that signed the NCA.
• The peace process in Myanmar was started In 2011 by President Thein Sein to end the long standing conflict with ethnic armed groups active in the country. A National Ceasefire Accord (NCA) was signed in October 2015 with armed ethnic groups. Subsequently the dialogue to initiate a political peace process was started in 2016 which is continuing.

4. US: FDA announces emergency authorization of blood plasma treatment against Covid-19

• The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced an emergency authorization for doctors to use blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients as a treatment against the disease.
• The plasma is believed to contain powerful antibodies that can help fight off the disease faster and help protect people from being seriously hurt by it.
• The FDA said, the plasma may be effective in treating COVID-19 and the potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.
• US President Donald Trump said, plasma therapy is likely to work much better after a person is exposed to the virus and the body is trying to neutralize the infection. Trump said the therapy shows an incredible rate of success and will save countless lives.

5. Saudi Arabia's state oil company Aramco suspends 10 bn dollar China oil refinery project

• Saudi Arabia’s state oil company has suspended a deal to build a $10 billion refining and petrochemicals complex in China, according to people familiar with the matter, as the company slashes spending to cope with low oil prices.
• Saudi Arabian Oil, or Aramco, decided to stop investing in the facility in China’s Northeastern province of Liaoning after negotiations with its Chinese partners, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the matter is private. The uncertain market outlook was behind the decision, they said.
• Aramco declined to comment. China North Industries Group , or Norinco, one of the partners, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. No one answered a call to Panjin Sincen, the third partner, outside office hours, or responded to an email.
• The oil-price crash and the virus’s impact on energy demand have changed the calculations for energy companies’ projects around the world. Aramco plans deep cuts to its capital spending as it tries to maintain a $75 billion dividend amid low crude prices and rising debt. The kingdom — Aramco’s main recipient of those dividends —is suffering a major squeeze on its public finances.
• The joint venture was signed when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was in Beijing in February last year — and at the time was seen as a landmark deal with a key ally. Saudi Arabia wanted to increase market share in Asia and also has encouraged Chinese investment in the kingdom.

6. UN: Global tourism lost USD 320 bn in 5 months due to coronavirus

• The tourism global industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with USD 320 billion lost in exports in the first five months of the year and more than 120 million jobs at risk.
• Tourism is the third-largest export sector of the global economy, behind fuels and chemicals, and in 2019 it accounted for 7 percent of global trade. It employs one in every 10 people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more.
• But in the first five months of 2020, because of the pandemic, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and earnings plummeted.
• This has been a "major shock" for richer developed nations "but for developing countries, it is an emergency, particularly for many small island developing states and African countries."
• Tourism for some of those countries represents more than 20% of their GDP.
• Sandra Carvao, the UN World Tourism Organisation's chief of market intelligence and competitiveness, said the USD 320 billion in lost exports from January through May is three times what was lost during the year 2009 at the height of the last global financial crisis.
• And according to the policy briefing, "export revenues from tourism could fall by USD 910 billion to USD 1.2 trillion in 2020" and that "could reduce global GDP by 1.5 per cent to 2.8 percent."
• In addition to tourism jobs that are at risk, the policy paper said jobs in associated sectors, including food service, that provide employment for 144 million workers worldwide are also at risk.

7. United Nations atomic watchdog agency head visits Iran amid US sanctions push

• Rafael Grossi, The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will meet with Iranian officials.
• He arrived in Iran for access to sites where authorities are thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material.
• The visit comes as the US is pushing to snapback UN sanctions on Iran for allegedly violating its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from more than two years ago.
• Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the other signatories to the deal, have declared the US action illegal, saying it can't withdraw from a deal and then use the UN resolution that endorsed it to re-impose sanctions.
• The IAEA repeatedly found Iran in compliance with the agreement until last year, when Tehran started openly exceeding some of the deal's limits on nuclear enrichment in response to heavy US sanctions.
• Iran has said the UN official's visit is an opportunity for greater cooperation and has nothing to do with the US push for more sanctions.
• The UN is seeking access to two sites, one near the capital and the other near the central city of Isfahan. He did not say whether Iran would grant access.

8. WHO cautions that plasma treatment for COVID-19 is still experimental

• The World Health Organization is cautioning that using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat other patients is still considered an experimental therapy, voicing concern amid worries of many scientists that a U.S. boost for the treatment will derail formal studies.
• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized what’s called “emergency use” of the treatment under its special powers to speed the availability of promising experimental drugs during a public health crisis. The action is not the same as approving plasma as safe and effective, and numerous rigorous studies are underway to find out if it really works.
• So far, “the results are not conclusive,” WHO’s chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said during a media briefing.
• Convalescent plasma is a century-old treatment that was used to fight off flu and measles outbreaks in the days before vaccines, and was tried more recently during the Ebola outbreak.
• When the body encounters a new germ, it makes proteins called antibodies that are specially targeted to fight the infection. The antibodies float in plasma — the yellowish, liquid part of blood — which is collected from COVID-19 survivors and given to patients infected with the coronavirus.

9. World Health Organization declares Africa free of polio

• The World Health Organization has declared Africa free of polio, a landmark in a decades-long campaign to eradicate the notorious disease around the world. This was announced by WHO Regional Director of Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
• She described this as a historic day for Africa.
• A commission led by Prof. Rose Gana Fomban Leke, has certified that no cases had occurred on the continent for the past four years, the threshold for eradication of poliovirus.
• The WHO said, poliovirus now joins smallpox in the list of viruses that have been wiped out in Africa.

10. Protest held in Dhaka against Chinese repression of Uighurs

• A protest was held in the Dhaka University area against the repression reportedly carried out by the Chinese government on Uighur Muslims.
• The speakers at the rally demanded intervention by the UN and International Criminal Court (ICC) to stop the atrocities and investigate the matter.
• The protest was organised by Muktijudha Manch which formed a human chain, held a protest rally and exhibition program demanding an end to the killings and torture of Uighur Muslims in China.
• Addressing the rally, General Secretary of the Muktijudha Manch Al Mamun said that millions of Muslims living in China's Xinjiang provine are suffering inhuman torture and persecution, reported Ittefaq.
• Condemning the Chinese atrocities Al Mamun said that the social, political, economic and religious freedom of the Uighur Muslims must be ensured.
• President of the Manch Aminul Islam Babul said that millions of Uighur Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang province.
• He said, the Chinese government is keeping the Uighurs under surveillance and inflicts torture of various kinds like hanging and beating upon them. Condemning the Chinese atrocities, the Manch demanded that the International Criminal Court should try China for genocide of Uighurs.
• The Xinjiang province situated in the northwestern region of China is home to the Turkic speaking ethnic group 'Uighur' who are mostly Muslims. Chinese government has been accused of forced detention of Uighurs in specially designed camps and torture ostensibly to control spread of extremism in the area especially since 2017.

11. First ever direct flight between Israel and UAE lands in Abu Dhabi

• In a historic step towards peace in the Middle East, the first commercial direct flight between Israel and the UAE landed in Abu Dhabi on August 31 after both countries announced normalisation of relations.
• The flight carried a top level Israeli delegation led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat while the US delegation was headed by US President Donald Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
• Israel and the UAE announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations, in a US-brokered deal that required Israel to suspend its plan to annex parts of the West Bank. UAE is only the third Arab country to establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. Israel's neighbours, Egypt and Jordan, being the other two Arab states to recognise the Jewish state.
• The development is being seen as a major breakthrough because the Israeli national carrier, El Al, flew over the Saudi airspace, which is being interpreted by analysts as acceptance of Israel by the Gulf countries in general, and a probable normalisation of ties with some of the other "friendly countries" in that region.

ECONOMY, BUSINESS AND DEFENCE NEWS

1. National Fertilizers Limited to set up an Organic Waste Converter Plant

• National Fertilizers Limited, NFL, a PSU under the Department of Fertilizers in Vijaipur, Madhya Pradesh is going to set up an Organic Waste Converter, OWC Plant.
• The biodegradable waste collected in the unit will be transported to OWC where it will be segregated from non-degradable parts.
• It will take around 10 days to convert it into ready to use compost. It is an initiative towards Swachh Bharat, the project aims to recycle around 2000 Kg per day of the biodegradable waste generated in township including the horticulture waste and convert it into ready to use compost.
• The unit plans to utilize this compost as manure thus substituting consumption of fertilisers or manure used for developments of parks or public places.
• The compost can also be used by the residents in their lawns and kitchen gardens.

2. Nitin Gadkari to inaugurate, lay foundation stones for 45 Highway projects in MP

• Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways Nitin Gadkari inaugurated and laid the foundation stones for 45 highway projects for Madhya Pradesh.
• These projects for inauguration and foundation laying carry a road length of 1,361 kilometers and involve a construction value of Rs 11,427 crore.
• These will enhance better connectivity, convenience, and economic growth in and around the state and will facilitate the movement of people and goods to and from neighbouring states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, etc, according to a release by the ministry.
• The NH length in the state is 13,248 kilometers today, which was barely 5,186 km in the year 2014. Rs 1,25,000 crore worth of development works is underway in Madhya Pradesh. As much as 60 to 70 per cent works have been completed on approximately Rs 30,000 crore worth road works in the state.
• He also announced that by the year 2023, development works worth Rs 50,000 crore are targeted for completion.
• Gadkari also informed that work has already started on the 1,260 km eight-lane access-controlled Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, of which 244 km 8-lane length will be constructed in Madhya Pradesh at a cost of Rs 8,214 crore. He also requested CM Chouhan to distribute the land acquisition money to farmers, which the NHAI has sent to the state government.He also announced Rs 700 crore from Central Road Fund(CRF) for Madhya Pradesh to be utilised in the road sector.
• Inviting proposals from the state, he said Rs 350 crore worth of proposals may include the proposals from MPs of Madhya Pradesh for road works in their constituency.

3. Govt activates Aadhaar authentication for new GST registration

• Aadhaar authentication for new goods and services tax (GST) registration has been activated from August 21, which will enhance ease of doing business.
• For those opting for Aadhaar authentication, new GST registration will be issued within three working days and would not need to wait for physical verification.
• However, those not opting for Aadhaar authentication for GST registration would be granted it only after physical verification of the place of business or documentary verification which may take up to 21 working days or more if notice is issued, a senior official said.
• Keeping in view the Covid 19 pandemic, the Officer may if the circumstances so warrant opt for asking for additional documents in lieu of the pre-registration for physical verification of the premises.
• The facility of quick approval of GST registration through Aadhaar authentication can be availed by all Indian citizens. It is not required for tax deductors, tax collectors, Online Information Database Access and Retrieval services (OIDARs), taxpayers having Unique Identification Number (UIN) and non-resident taxpayers.
• In both cases, the officer concerned needs to act within a specified time - 3 days for a person opting for Aadhaar authentication and 21 days for those opting not to undergo Aadhaar authentication.

4. MHA issues SOP for global travel, Air Bubble passengers need not register with Indian missions

• The ministry of home affairs (MHA) issued Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for international travel on non-scheduled commercial flights under the Vande Bharat Scheme and Air Transport Bubble arrangement.
• The SOP states that persons wanting to travel to India on Vande Bharat flights will register themselves with the Indian missions in the country where they are stranded/residing, along with necessary details as prescribed by the ministry of external affairs (MEA).
• On the other hand, people coming to India on flights operating under air-bubble arrangements will not need to register themselves with the Indian missions.
• India, so far, has bilateral air travel arrangements or ‘air bubbles’ with the US, the UK, Germany, France, Qatar, Maldives and the UAE while negotiations are going on with 13 more countries.
• The SOP issued said that priority will be given to compelling cases in distress, including workers who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with expiry of visas, persons with medical emergency, pregnant women, elderly persons or those required to return to India due to death of family members and students.
• For inbound passengers, MEA will prepare a flight/ship wise database of all travellers, including details such as name, age, gender, mobile number, place of residence, place final destination, and information on RT-PCR test taken and its result.
• This database will be shared by MEA with the respective state/UT in advance (where the passenger is heading).
• It said that “in case of people travelling to India under air-bubble arrangement, passenger manifest containing the same details as above for Vande Bharat flights or in a revised format as may be finalized by the MEA with the country concerned, will be submitted by the airlines to the Indian mission in the country concerned before operation of each flight with a copy to the state/UT government of the destination port in India”.
• All travellers coming to India will have to give an undertaking that they are making the journey at their own risk, according to the SOP.
• In case of people wanting to travel out of India under these two programs, they will have to apply to the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) or to an agency designated by MOCA for this purpose, along with necessary details, including the place of departure and arrival.
• Indian seafarers seeking to accept contracts abroad to serve on vessels abroad can travel on the non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the civil aviation ministry or the flights arranged by their employers subject to clearance given by ministry of shipping.

5. Air Chief Marshal launches mobile application MY IAF

• Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria launched a mobile application, "MY IAF", that will provide career-related information to those who want to join the Indian Air Force, read an official statement.
• The app was launched by Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria at Vayu Bhawan as part of the 'Digital India' initiative.
• The application, developed in association with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), provides career-related information and details for those desirous of joining the IAF.
• The user-friendly format of the app serves as a single digital platform interfacing the users with the details of the selection procedure, training curriculum, pay and perks etc for both officers and airmen in the IAF.
• The application is available on Google Play store for android phones and is linked to the IAF's social media platforms. It also provides glimpses into the history and stories of valour in the IAF.

6. Mumbai's CSMT to get Rs 1,642 cr makeover with world class facilities

• The iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, which is a UNESCO recognised world heritage site and the biggest railway terminal in Mumbai, is set to get a makeover with world class facilities at a cost of Rs 1,642 crore.
• Under the project, the plan is to shift some railway offices from the premises to Byculla and Wadi Bunder yards, create more pedestrian areas and have an access control system at the station, they said.
• The 130-year-old majestic building, constructed in Victorian Gothic style, houses the Central Railways headquarters and also platforms of the suburban and long distance trains.
• The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) invited the Request For Qualification (RFQ) for the redevelopment of the station through the public private partnership (PPP) model.
• The redevelopment of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in south Mumbai would not only be limited to improving the facade of the station.
• The project has received in principle approval of the public private partnership appraisal committee (PPPAC) and RFQ for the redevelopment of CSMT has been invited, he said.
• The project cost is Rs 1,642 crore, including the construction cost of Rs 1,231 crore and financing cost of Rs 328 crore.
• The redevelopment of the structure will be done on a DBFOT (design, build, finance, operate and transfer) basis.
• The bidding process will be done in two stages- RFQ and Request for Proposal (RFP).
• The selected bidder at the RFP stage shall take up redevelopment of the railway station and commercial development of the surrounding railway land on leasehold basis, up to 60 years for commercial development and up to 99 years for residential development on selected plots, along with operation and maintenance of the station for 60 years on concession basis.
• Under the project, authorities have planned to demolish some existing buildings in the CSMT premises and shift some railway offices to Byculla and Wadi Bunder yards, to create more pedestrian area on the southern end of the station.
• Also, the Harbour line, which connects south Mumbai with western suburbs and Navi Mumbai, will be shifted to the P D'mello Road side on east of the main line station on an elevated level, they said.
• According to IRSDC, the stations will have an access control system and the passengers will have to pay a user fee, which the railway board will decide in future.
• The station was designed in 1878 by British architect F W Stevens in Victorian style, well aided with traditional Indian themes.
• Originally named as the Victoria Terminus, it was built at a cost of around Rs 16 lakh. The structure, which took nearly 10 years to be constructed, gave the 19th century Mumbai its gothic city look.

7. Army Chief honours 51 SAG of National Security Guards with 'Chief of Army Staff Unit Appreciation'

• Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane conferred the COAS Unit Appreciation to 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guards in recognition of the group’s outstanding achievements in combating terrorism. On this occasion, the COAS complimented the force for its capabilities and professionalism.
• The group draws 100 per cent of its manpower from the Indian Army and has established itself as an elite Counter-Terrorist Force earning many Gallantry Awards including three Ashok Chakras.
• Among various operations of the group, most noteworthy was Operation Black Tornado during which it eliminated eight terrorists during the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008, freeing over 600 hostages, including numerous foreign nationals.
• Since its raising in December 1984, 51 Special Action Group has carved a niche for itself among the most renowned counter terrorist outfits of the world. One of the most renowned counter-terror outfits it has many feathers in its cap, including the elimination of eight terrorists responsible for the 26/11 attacks.

8. Govt extends validity of Motor Vehicle documents

• The government announced further extension till September 30 for the validity of motor vehicle documents, including driving license and vehicle fitness, in view of Covid-19 pandemic.
• Earlier, the Centre through an advisory on March 30 announced the extension of the validity of fitness, permit (all types), driving license, registration, or any other concerned document till June 30.
• In order to facilitate citizens during the period and conditions for prevention for Covid-19, the ministry had also issued a gazette notification on May 21, relaxing the fees validity and /or additional fee under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, till July 31, 2020.
• Now the state/UTs have also been requested to consider provisions available under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 or other such provisions available under other Acts, for considering relaxation in requirement of a permit, or fees or taxes for renewal/penalty for permits, etc to provide relief during these extraordinary circumstances of Covid-19, as per the notification.

9. Businesses with annual turnover of up to Rs 40 lakh are GST exempt: Finance Ministry

• The Ministry of Finance said that businesses with an annual turnover of up to Rs 40 lakhs are exempt from GST and those with a turnover up to Rs 1.5 crore can opt for the Composition Scheme and pay only one per cent tax,
• Earlier, the GST exemption limit was Rs 20 lakhs.
• The Ministry also informed that significant reliefs have been extended to the construction sector, particularly the housing sector which has been placed at the 5 per cent tax rate.
• GST on affordable housing has been reduced to 1%.

10. RBI projects India’s growth rate at (-) 4.5 per cent for 2020-2021

• The Reserve Bank of India has projected the country’s growth rate at (-) 4.5 percent for 2020-2021. In an annual report released by the bank on August 25, 2020, the global growth rate has been projected between (-) 6.0 percent and (-) 7.6 percent.
• The report also informed that the expected headline inflation will remain elevated in the current year but is likely to ease in the second half of the fiscal.
• While mentioning that it is difficult to accurately assess the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic as the dynamics have still been evolving.
• RBI said it looks like the decline in economic activity reaches its trough in April-June quarter of 2020-21 and recovers thereafter, albeit at a gradual pace.
• It adds that the growth is likely to turn positive from January-March quarter 2020-21.

11. APEDA signs MoUs with AFC India Limited and National Cooperative Union of India to synergize the activities in the interest of agriculture and allied sectors

• Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has signed MoUs with AFC India Limited, and National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI), Delhi.
• The objective is to utilise their expertise by mutually working together to synergize the activities in the interest of agriculture and allied sectors for bringing better value to the stakeholders.
• APEDA has relentlessly been engaged with State Governments for the implementation of AEP. The states of Maharashtra, U.P., Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Manipur and Sikkim have finalized the State-specific Action Plan while the action plans of other states are at different stages of finalization. 26 States & 3 UTs have nominated Nodal agencies. State level Monitoring Committees under the Chairmanship of State Chief Secretary have been formed in 21 States.
• Twenty Cluster level committees have been formed in the cluster district(s) of Potato in Punjab, U.P. (two separate districts), Isabgol in Rajasthan, Orange, Pomegranate, Grapes, Banana (3 districts) in Maharashtra, Banana in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Mango in U.P., Dairy products in Gujarat, U.P., Rose onion in Karnataka, Fresh vegetables in U.P., Orange in M.P. and Potato in Gujarat (2districts). Two rounds of meetings have been conducted in the clusters for sensitization of the stakeholders and discussion on the interventions required.
• It is in this background that APEDA has signed MoUs with institutions like AFC India Limited and National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI).

12. Govt. allows free export of PPE medical coveralls of all categories, face shields and masks

• The Commerce Ministry amended its export policy for Personal Protection Equipment, PPE and masks.
• Under the new policy, PPE medical coveralls of all categories are allowed to be freely exported from the country.
• Face shields and masks except N-95 and FFP2 have also been put under the list of freely exportable commodities.
• Medical goggles can be exported with a restriction of an upper ceiling of 20 lakh units per month, whereas N-95 and FFP2 masks can be exported upto 50 lakh units a month.

13. Rs 2,000 currency notes not printed in 2019-20: RBI

• Reserve Bank of India has said that it did not print currency notes of 2,000 rupee denomination in 2019-20. In its annual report, RBI said the circulation of these high denomination currency notes has been on a decline.
• On the other hand, the circulation of currency notes of 500 and 200 rupee denomination has gone up substantially, both in terms of volume and value over the three years beginning 2018.
• The report also said, a total of 2.96 lakh of counterfeit currency notes was detected by the banking sector in the last fiscal year. RBI also said it has undertaken several initiatives to introduce varnished banknotes in 100 rupee denomination on a field trial basis.

14. E-auction portal launched to promote trading of GI-tagged 'Kashmir Saffron'

• Jammu and Kashmir's agriculture department has created an e-auction portal to promote trading of GI-tagged 'Kashmir Saffron'.
• The Department, under the aegis of India International Kashmir Saffron Trading Centre (IIKSTC), has created the portal in collaboration with NSE-IT, with the sole motive to assure buyers to have access to quality 'Kashmir Saffron'.
• The Saffron growers of Kashmir valley and buyers across India have been requested to register themselves as sellers and buyers for E- trading on www.saffroneauctionindia.com, so that hassle free e-Trading between registered growers and buyers is ensured.

15. Average income of MGNREGA workers doubled during Coronavirus lockdown in April-July period, CRISIL report says

• The average income per month for unskilled workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) nearly doubled to around 1,000 rupees per month during the first four months of the current fiscal, the report said.
• The April-July period of the current fiscal witnessed 46 per cent growth in work execution (in terms of person-days) under the scheme. The average per day wage increased by 12 per cent during the period under review. As per the report, the primary reason for the government's thrust on MGNREGA was the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed migrant workers back into their villages. The push to the scheme has been higher in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha and Gujarat, where work allocation increased more than 50 per cent in the first four months.
• The government has allocated 61,500 crore rupees for this scheme under Union Budget 2020-21, and later increased the allocation by 40,000 crore rupees amid the pandemic to support the rural economy. Even after considering the revised allocation, more than 50 per cent of the funds have been spent in the first four months of the fiscal, the report said.
• MGNREGA has the mandate of providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer for unskilled manual work. It has been a key mechanism of providing employment to the rural labour force.

16. Govt approves 78 new routes under 4th round of Regional Connectivity Scheme

• Following the three successful rounds of bidding, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved 78 new routes under the 4th round of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)- UdeDeshKaAamNagrik (UDAN) to further enhance the connectivity to remote and regional areas of the country.
• Northeastern states, Hilly States and Islands have been given priority in the approval process for the new routes. Around 29 served, 8 unserved (including 02 heliports and 01 water aerodrome), and 2 underserved airports have been included in the list for approved routes. Overall 766 routes have been sanctioned so far under the UDAN scheme.
• The awarding of these 78 routes under UDAN 4 is in line with the Act East Policy of the Central Government.
• The airports that had already been developed by AAI are given higher priority for the award of VGF under the Scheme. Under UDAN 4, the operation of helicopters and seaplanes has also been incorporated. Since its inception, MoCA has operationalised 274 UDAN routes that have connected 45 airports and 3 heliports."


17. Ministry of Culture announces 7 new circles of Archaeological Survey of India

• The Ministry of Culture has announced 7 new circles of the Archaeological Survey of India, ASI.
• In a video message, Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said, Ministry of Culture has taken the step in accordance with the Prime Minister's call to facilitate and strengthen the process of preservation and registration of archaeological monuments.
• He informed that new circles have been created in Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Gujarat. Mr Patel said, Trichy, Raiganj, Rajkot, Jabalpur, Jhansi and Meerut have been announced as new circles.
• The Minister said, in a large state like Tamil Nadu which has thousands of temples and glorious memories of the Chola kings, Trichy has been made a new circle along with the circle of Chennai. He said Hampi city in Karnataka is a place of international importance from the point of view of archaeological heritage therefore the Hampi Sub-Circle now has been made a new full fledged circle.
• In West Bengal, Raiganj has been made as a new circle along with Kolkata, which will eliminate geographical inconvenience. In Gujarat, Rajkot has been announced as a new circle along with Vadodara. Mr Patel said Jabalpur has been announced as a new circle along with Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
• This will include the monuments from Jabalpur, Rewa, Shahdol and Sagar divisions. The Minister also informed that Jhansi in Bundelkhand and Meerut in western UP have been announced as two new circles along with Lucknow and Agra in Uttar Pradesh.The Minister said, earlier there were 29 ASI circles across the country.

18. Indian Railways set to meet all its energy needs of over 33 billion units by 2030

• Indian Railways is set to meet all its energy needs of more than 33 billion units by 2030.
• The current annual requirement is about 21 billion units.
• Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said, Railways have developed a mega plan for installing solar plants of 20 Gigawatt capacity by utilizing its vacant land by 2030.
• He said, the use of solar power will accelerate the mission to achieve conversion of Indian Railways to Net Zero Carbon Emission Railway.
• He said, Railway is committed to utilize solar energy for meeting its traction power requirement and become a complete Green mode of transportation.
• Railway has adopted a multi-pronged approach towards decarbonization which will be fulfilled by the solar projects, making it the first transport organization to be energy self-sufficient.
• This will help in making Indian Railways green as well as Atma-Nirbhar.
• The Minister pointed out that Indian Railways will extend all support to the developers for installing solar power plants on Railway's vacant un-encroached land.
• He said, boundary wall along the track will be constructed and maintained by developers which will also help in preventing trespassing on tracks.

19. DoPPW to integrate e- Pension Payment Order with Digi Locker

• The Centre has planned to integrate the electronic Pension Payment Order (e-PPO) with DigiLocker in order to enhance ease of living of Central government civil pensioners.
• The Department of Pension and Pensioners' Welfare (DoPPW) has been directed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come up with the facility to help the pensioners considering the various issues faced by them if they misplace the original copy of the Pension Payment Order.
• It had come to the notice of the DoPPW that several pensioners, over a period of time, misplace the original copy of the PPO.
• In the absence of the PPO, these pensioners have to face innumerable hardships at various stages of their post-retirement life. For newly retired officials, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a dilemma to physically receive hard copies of the PPO.
• Considering these issues, the DoPPW has decided to integrate the electronic Pension Payment Order (e-PPO) generated through the PFMS application of the Controller General of Accounts with Digi Locker, revealed a Ministry of Personnel communique.
• It said that the system will enable a pensioner to obtain an instant printout of the latest copy of their PPO, from their DigiLocker account -- an online service provided by the Ministry of Electronics and IT.
• This initiative will create a permanent record of their PPO in their DigiLocker and at the same time eliminate delays in reaching the PPO to new pensioners as well as the necessity of handing over a physical copy.
• This was a target set to be accomplished by 2021-22, which the DoPPW completed ahead of time in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
• This facility has been created with 'Bhavishya' software, which is a single window platform for pensioners, right from the start of their pension processing till the end of the process.
• "Bhavishya" shall now provide an option to retiring employees, to link their DigiLocker account with their "Bhavishya" account and obtain their e-PPO in a seamless manner. There is also an option for the retiring employees to link their DigiLocker account with "Bhavishya" to get e-PPO.
• The option is available to the retiree at the time of filling of retirement forms, as well as after submission of the forms.
• A retiree will sign into the DigiLocker account from Bhavishya and authorise Bhavishya to push the e-PPO to DigiLocker.
• As soon as e-PPO is issued, it is automatically pushed into the corresponding DigiLocker account and the retiree is informed about the same through SMS and e-mail by Bhavishya.
• To view or download the e-PPO, the retiree has to log into his DigiLocker account and simply click on the link.
• The administrative divisions of all ministries and departments and attached or subordinate offices have been requested to bring these instructions to the notice of all concerned for compliance.

20. Government launches contest "Chunauti" to promote startups in small towns

• Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad has launched "Chunauti"- Next Generation Startup Challenge Contest to further boost startups and software products with special focus on Tier-II towns of the country.
• The government has earmarked a budget of over 95 crore rupees over a period of three years for this programme.
• It aims at identifying around three hundred startups working in identified areas and providing them seed funds of upto 25 lakh rupees and other facilities.
• Under this challenge the Ministry of Electronics and IT will invite startups in the areas of work including Edu Tech, Agri Tech and FinTech solutions for masses, Supply Chain and Logistic management, Infrastructure, Medical Healthcare as well as jobs and skilling.
• The Ministry said, the startups selected through Chunauti will be provided various support from the Government.

21. Beximco Pharma to cooperate with India for supply of COVID 19 Vaccine in Bangladesh

• Beximco Pharma to cooperate with Serum Institute of India for supply of COVID 19 Vaccine in Bangladesh
• Heads of both the companies hailed it as a ‘landmark agreement’ to help mitigate the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Under the terms of the planned arrangement, Beximco will make a financial contribution to advance the development of the vaccine which will be adjusted based on the vaccine price, said a press release issued by the BPL.

PEOPLE IN NEWS & OBITUARIES

1. Rajiv Kumar appointed new Election Commissioner

• The central government appointed retired bureaucrat Rajiv Kumar as the new Election Commissioner. Kumar will have a five-year tenure and retire in 2025. He is likely to preside over the next Lok Sabha polls in 2024.
• He is a 1984 batch IAS officer of the Jharkhand cadre, will take charge the day Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa leaves office on August 31.
• The Asian Development Bank had appointed Ashok Lavasa as its vice president and he had announced his resignation,
• According to rules, an election commissioner has six years on the post or till he turns 65, whichever is earlier. Kumar was born in February 1960.

2. US Elections: RNC re-nominates Trump as party’s Presidential candidate

• The Republican National Convention (RNC) has formally re-nominated President Donald Trump as the party's Presidential candidate for the November 3 election.
• Mr Trump, who faces a formidable challenge from former Democratic vice president Joe Biden, is scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech.
• The once in four-year GOP (Grand Old Party) convention is being held in virtual mode due to the raging Coronavirus pandemic. A small part of the official business of the convention is being held at Charlotte in North Carolina.
• Mr Trump was re-nominated following a roll call of votes from elected Republican Party delegates from all the 50 states.
• Vice President Mike Pence, was also re-nominated as his running mate. Mr Pence made a surprise appearance at Charlotte where the roll call vote was done.

3. Shinzo Abe resigns on health grounds; PM Modi wishes him speedy recovery

• Shinzo Abe announced his decision to resign from the post of the Japan’ premier on August 28. He was the longest-serving prime minister of Japan.
• Abe cited health issues as the reason for his resignation and had said that he could not be the prime minister if he could not make the best decisions for the people.
• Abe has battled the disease ulcerative colitis for years and two recent hospital visits within a week had fanned questions on whether he could stay in the job until the end of his term as ruling party leader, and hence, premier, in September 2021.
• Following his resignation, PM Modi had wished Abe a speedy recovery and said that he was “pained” to hear about the Japanese leader’s ill health and credited him for cementing relations between the two countries.
• PM Modi also credited Abe with playing a lead role in strengthening relations between India and Japan.
• Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe thanked India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for wishing him a speedy recovery, saying that he is “deeply touched” with his “warm words”.

4. Pranab Mukherjee, former President, passes away at 84

• Former President of India and Congress party veteran Pranab Mukherjee passed away on 31st August 2020 at the age of 84.
• The veteran politician, who spent five decades in politics, had undergone brain surgery at Delhi's Army Research and Referral hospital.
• The hospital said his health began declining after a lung infection resulted in septic shock. Mukherjee, who had also tested positive for coronavirus, was admitted to the hospital on August 10.
• Central government announced seven-day state mourning on the demise of former president Pranab Mukherjee.
• During the state mourning, from 31 August to 6 September, the national flag will fly at half-mast on buildings across India and there will be no official entertainment.
• Fondly called 'Pranab Da' by his peers and friends, Mukherjee was born on December 11, 1935 in Birbhum district, West Bengal. He completed Masters in Political Science and History and LLB degree from University of Calcutta.
• Mukherjee first became the general secretary of the Congress in 1998. He was a member of the Congress Working Committee for 23 years. It’s a mixed bag legacy for the politician who won his first election in 2004 from Jangipur in West Bengal.
• Mukherjee became India's youngest finance minister in 1982 at the age of 47. From 2004, he went on to head three crucial ministries — external affairs, defence and finance — and became the first occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan to have this distinction.
• He served as India's 13th President from 2012-2017.
• Pranab Mukherjee was honored with Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award in 2019.

SPORTS NEWS

1. Sophia Popov becomes first German to win women's major at British Open

• World number 304 Sophia Popov became the first German to win a women's major with victory in the British Open, just a year after being on the verge of quitting golf.
• Three ahead at the start of the final round, the 27-year-old finished on seven under par 277 after carding a 68.
• Thailand's Jasmine Suwannapura was second, two shots off the pace.

2. England pacer James Anderson becomes 1st fast bowler in history to take 600 Test wickets

• Jimmy Anderson has entered the exclusive 600 Club.
• The England paceman became only the fourth bowler and the first seamer to take 600 wickets in test cricket by dismissing Azhar Ali in the third test against Pakistan.
• After England captain Joe Root took the high catch at first slip off the Pakistan captain to give Anderson his prized wicket, the 38-year-old fast bowler was mobbed by his teammates.
• Then Anderson took the ball in his right hand and with a cheeky smile saluted all sides of the Rose Bowl, which is without spectators because of coronavirus restrictions. England coach Chris Silverwood applauded on the boundary edge.

3. National Sports Awards 2020 announced

• The Government of India announced the National Sports Awards 2020 on 22 August.
• For the Arjuna Award, 27 sports persons have been selected, this year and five names for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award which is the country’s highest sporting honour.
• The Justice (retd) Mukundakam Sharma-led selection panel had recommended 29 names for the Arjuna Award to the Sports Ministry.

1. RAJIV GANDHI KHEL RATNA AWARD
S. No. Name of the Sportsperson Discipline
1 Shri Rohit Sharma Cricket
2 Shri Mariyappan T. Para Athletics
3 Ms. Manika Batra Table Tennis
4 Ms. Vinesh Wrestling
5 Ms. Rani Hockey
     
2. DRONACHARYA AWARD
A. Life- Time Category
S. No. Name of the Coach Discipline
1 Shri Dharmendra Tiwary Archery
2 Shri Purushotham Rai Athletics
3 Shri Shiv Singh Boxing
4 Shri Romesh Pathania Hockey
5 Shri Krishan Kumar Hooda Kabaddi
6 Shri Vijay Bhalchandra Munishwar Para Powerlifting
7 Shri Naresh Kumar Tennis
8 Shri Om Parkash Dahiya Wrestling
     
B. Regular Category
S. No. Name of the Coach Discipline
1 Shri Jude Felix Sebastian Hockey
2 Shri Yogesh Malviya Mallakhamb
3 Shri Jaspal Rana Shooting
4 Shri Kuldeep Kumar Handoo Wushu
5 Shri Gaurav Khanna Para Badminton
     
3. ARJUNA AWARD 
S. No. Name of the Sportsperson (Shri) Discipline
1 Shri Atanu Das Archery
2 Ms. Dutee Chand Athletics
3 Shri Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy Badminton
4 Shri Chirag Chandrasekhar Shetty Badminton
5 Shri Vishesh Bhriguvanshi Basketball
6 Subedar Manish Kaushik Boxing
7 Ms. Lovlina Borgohain Boxing
8 Shri Ishant Sharma Cricket
9 Ms. Deepti Sharma Cricket
10 Shri Sawant Ajay Anant Equestrian
11 Shri Sandesh Jhingan Football
12 Ms. Aditi Ashok Golf
13 Shri Akashdeep Singh Hockey
14 Ms. Deepika Hockey
15 Shri Deepak Kabaddi
16 Shri Kale Sarika Sudhakar Kho Kho
17 Shri Dattu Baban Bhokanal Rowing
18 Ms. Manu Bhaker Shooting
19 Shri Saurabh Chaudhary Shooting
20 Ms. Madhurika Suhas Patkar Table Tennis
21 Shri Divij Sharan Tennis
22 Shri Shiva Keshavan Winter Sports
23 Ms. Divya Kakran Wrestling
24 Shri Rahul Aware Wrestling
25 Shri Suyash Narayan Jadhav Para Swimming
26 Shri Sandeep Para Athletics
27 Shri Manish Narwal Para Shooting
     
4. DHYAN CHAND AWARD
S. No. Name of the Sportsperson Discipline
1 Shri Kuldip Singh Bhullar Athletics
2 Ms. Jincy Philips Athletics
3 Shri Pradeep Shrikrishna Gandhe Badminton
4 Ms. Trupti Murgunde Badminton
5 Ms. N. Usha Boxing
6 Shri Lakha Singh Boxing
7 Shri Sukhvinder Singh Sandhu Football
8 Shri Ajit Singh Hockey
9 Shri Manpreet Singh Kabaddi
10 Shri J. Ranjith Kumar Para Athletics
11 Shri Satyaprakash Tiwari Para Badminton
12 Shri Manjeet Singh Rowing
13 Late Shri Sachin Nag Swimming
14 Shri Nandan P Bal Tennis
15 Shri Netarpal Hooda Wrestling
     
5. TENZING NORGAY NATIONAL ADVENTURE AWARDS 2019
S. No. Name of the Sportsperson Category
1 Ms. Anita Devi Land Adventure
2 Col. Sarfraz Singh Land Adventure
3 Shri Taka Tamut Land Adventure
4 Shri Narender Singh Land Adventure
5 Shri Keval Hiren Kakka Land Adventure
6 Shri Satendra Singh Water Adventure
7 Shri Gajanand Yadava Air Adventure
8 Late Shri Magan Bissa Life Time Achievement
     
 6. MAULANA ABUL KALAM AZAD (MAKA) TROPHY
1 Panjab University, Chandigarh  
     
7. RASHTRIYA KHEL PROTSAHAN PURUSKAR
S. No. Category Entity recommended for Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar, 2020
1 Identification and Nurturing of Budding and Young Talent 1.Lakshya Institute
2.Army Sports Institute
2 Encouragement to sports through Corporate Social Responsibility Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Ltd.
3 Employment of sportspersons and sports welfare measures Air Force Sports Control Board
4 Sports for Development International Institute of Sports Management (IISM)

 

INDEX AND REPORTS

1. NITI Aayog releases Export Preparedness Index 2020

• NITI Aayog in partnership with the Institute of Competitiveness released the Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2020.
• The first report to examine export preparedness and performance of Indian states, EPI intends to identify challenges and opportunities; enhance the effectiveness of government policies; and encourage a facilitative regulatory framework.
• The structure of the EPI includes 4 pillars –Policy; Business Ecosystem; Export Ecosystem; Export Performance – and 11 sub-pillars –Export Promotion Policy; Institutional Framework; Business Environment; Infrastructure; Transport Connectivity; Access to Finance; Export Infrastructure; Trade Support; R&D Infrastructure; Export Diversification; and Growth Orientation.
• The average score of Indian states in these three sub-pillars was above 50%.
• Overall, most of the Coastal States are the best performers. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu occupy the top three ranks, respectively. Six of eight coastal states feature in the top ten rankings, indicating the presence of strong enabling and facilitating factors to promote exports. In the landlocked states, Rajasthan has performed the best, followed by Telangana and Haryana. Among the Himalayan states, Uttarakhand is the highest, followed by Tripura and Himachal Pradesh. Across the Union Territories, Delhi has performed the best, followed by Goa and Chandigarh.
• The report also highlights that export orientation and preparedness are not just restricted to prosperous states.

IMPORTANT DAYS

1. International Day against Nuclear Tests- 29 August

• On 2 December 2009, the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Tests by unanimously adopting resolution 64/35.
• The resolution calls for increasing awareness and education “about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”
• The resolution was initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors with a view to commemorating the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991.
• 2010 marked the inaugural commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests.
• The main mechanism for eradicating nuclear weapons testing is the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 September 1996. To date, 184 countries have signed the treaty and 168 have ratified it. For the Treaty to enter into Force, it must be ratified by those States with significant nuclear capabilities.

2. International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances-30 August

• On 21 December 2010, by its resolution 65/209 the UN General Assembly expressed its deep concern about the increase in enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world, including arrest, detention and abduction, when these are part of or amount to enforced disappearances, and by the growing number of reports concerning harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances or relatives of persons who have disappeared.
• By the same resolution the Assembly welcomed the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and decided to declare 30 August the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, to be observed beginning in 2011.