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April 2020 - National News




  • The 15th Finance Commission held meeting with its Advisory Council
    The Fifteenth Finance Commission (XVFC) had online meetings with its Advisory Council on 23-24 April 2020. The meeting was chaired by N. K. Singh, Chairman XVFC, and was attended by all members and senior officials of the Commission.

    Highlights:
    The Members of the Advisory Council discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown on the Indian economy.

    The officials discussed the impact of the pandemic on financial institutions and business enterprises and the loss of global demand for Indian products because of a steep global recession.

    Discussions on measures to restore the supplies of intermediates and cash flows and the demand for output.

    Small scale enterprises were cash-starved even prior to the onset of COVID-19.

    The Council devised a support mechanism to help the activity levels and cash flows to overcome the economic issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Currently, the activity levels and cash flows are affected, it is important that a support mechanism is devised to help them overcome this problem.

    To help Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) which are also affected by the slowdown, the commission planned to deepen the NPAs in the financial sector and introduce measures to guarantee help.

    The council planned to seek Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) help to ensure that financial institutions are well-capitalized.

    The finances of the Central and State Governments will be given adequate provision to largely help governments to manage cash-flow mismatches. It aims to ensure that the State governments get access to adequate funds to undertake their fight against the pandemic.

    The Council decided to support the revival of activity in different States which will be at a varied pace.



  • Over 1.5 lakh farmers, traders register in Kisan Rath mobile app
    Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare reported that over 1.5 lakh farmers and traders registered on ‘Kisan Rath’ mobile app, just within one week of its launch.

    Kisan Rath:
    Kisan Rath was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare on 17 April 2020.

    The app facilitates Farmers and Traders in identifying the right mode of transportation for the movement of farm produce ranging from food grain including cereal, coarse cereal, pulses, etc, Fruits & Vegetables, oilseeds, spices, fiber crops, flowers, bamboo, log and minor forest produce, coconuts, etc.

    The procurement of Pulses and Oilseeds on MSP is currently in progress in 20 States.
    A quantity of 1,79,852.21 MT of Pulses and 1,64,195.14 MT of Oilseeds has been procured by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.(NAFED) and Food Corporation of India (FCI) valued at Rs.1605.43 crore through which 2,05,869 farmers have been benefited.

    The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation, and Farmers’ Welfare have reported that a total of 80,474 farmers and 70,581 traders are registered on this App, so far.




  • PM launched E-Gram Swaraj portal
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the E-Gram Swaraj portal and app on 24 April 2020 at the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day on the official web portal egramswaraj.gov.in through a video conference with Panchayat Sarpanch.

    The Portal is a simplified work-based accounting application form Panchayati Raj. It functions under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR).

    E-Gram Swaraj:
    E-Gram Swaraj will monitor the events organized for the rural areas.

    Candidates check the EGramSwaraj Portal link www.egramswaraj.gov.in

    The portal aims to strengthen e-governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) across the country.

    E-Gram Swaraj aims to bring better transparency in decentralized planning, progress reporting, and task-based accounting.

    This initiative is a part of the Digital India program in the country and seeks to promote e-governance of panchayats in villages.

    The villages will be able to work and government and digitally, thus, bring digital literacy to the villages.

    The e-Gram Swaraj website lists down the latest updates such as the 65967 number of profiles created, 244447 approved Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs), 87434 physical progress completed, 265311 financial progress onboarding, and 102968 geo-tagging initiated.




  • King George Medical University became first hospital to successfully launch Plasma Therapy to treat COVID-19 patient
    The King George Medical University in Uttar Pradesh became the first government hospital in the country to successfully launch the plasma therapy treatment for COVID-19 patients.

    Convalescent plasma Therapy:
    The method was used in the past to treat diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, 1918 flu epidemic, and in previous outbreaks of respiratory infections namely H1N1 influenza, SARS, and MERS.

    Under the method, Plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 will be collected. It is believed that it might contain antibodies to the virus that causes the disease and might be effective against the infection.

    Plasma Therapy:
    The first dose of the plasma therapy was given yesterday to a 58-year old patient. The 58-year old COVID-19 patient who was on a ventilator showed signs of recovery and the second dose of the plasma transfusion therapy is to be given on 27 April.

    If the patient recovers successfully then it will be a great step in treating serious patients with the help of plasma transfusion therapy.

    The doctors are preparing Plasma Therapy for the approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The plasma was already secured from the three recovered COVID-19 patients who were treated at KGMU itself.




  • Basava Jayanthi was celebrated on 26 April
    Basava Jayanthi was celebrated on 26 April. It is an annual event that is celebrated in the honour of the birth of Vishwaguru Basaveshwara, the 12th-century philosopher and social reformer.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to Lord Basaveshwara and greeted the people on the occasion of Basava Jayanthi.

    The day aims to spread Lord Basavanna's works and his ideas around the world to make the world a better place.

    Basavanna:
    Basavanna was a 12th-century philosopher, Kannada poet, statesman, and a social reformer. He lived during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I in Karnataka, India.

    He introduced Anubhava Mantapa, a new public institution that welcomed men and women to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open. Basavanna introduced the Sharana movement.

    It attracted people from all castes that produced a corpus of literature, the vachanas. It unveiled the spiritual universe of the Veerashaiva saints. He also set up the Anubhava Mandapa, where the Sharanas, drawn from different castes and communities, gathered and engaged in learning and discussions

    In November 2015, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the statue of Basaveshwara along the bank of the River Thames at Lambeth in London. Also in 2017, the PM suggested the digitization of holy Vachanas of Basavanna, which was done later.




  • India became third largest military spender in the world
    Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report titled "Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019" stated that India has become the third-largest military spender in the world, after the US and China.

    Highlights:
    For the first time that India and China are among the top three military spenders.

    It highlighted that India's tensions and rivalry with Pakistan and China are among the main reasons for its increased military expenditure.

    The military spending of India grew by 6.8% to $71.1 billion in 2019. This was the highest military spending in South Asia.

    The report stated that the total global military expenditure rose to $1,917 billion in 2019, which is an increase of 3.6% from 2018 and the largest annual growth in spending since 2010.




  • India provided Bangladesh one lakh anti-malarial HCQ tablets and 50,000 surgical gloves
    India sent 50,000 surgical gloves and one lakh tablets of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to Bangladesh to help its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The information was passed by India's High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das.

    Highlights:
    Earlier, India took the initiative and organised a conference of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic during which a SAARC emergency fund was launched.

    Under this initiative, India Provided one lakh HCQ medicines and 50,000 surgical gloves which can be used by the healthcare professional.

    India has also launched an initiative to conduct online courses that could help the medical professionals in the country.

    All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Raipur conducted a course that was attended by many people from Bangladesh.

    Previously, India gifted head covers and masks for medical professionals of Bangladesh.

    Bangladesh has reported 5,416 cases of coronavirus. Also, the Bangladesh government has announced a $11.6 billion stimulus package to support its economy. The primary focus of the move is to support the manufacturing and service sectors, agriculture and social safety nets.




  • NAFED distributed about 6 lakh MT pulses to nearly 20 crore households for 3 months under PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana
    Under Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, Centre is planning to transport and milling of pulses in the country to distribute one kilogram of pulses to about 20 crore households for 3 months.

    Highlights:
    The massive operation includes the lifting of un-milled pulses from the godowns, getting the pulses cleaned, and then reaching them to the states for distribution.

    Under the scheme, NAFED will distribute around 5.88 lakh metric tonnes (MT) pulses to about 20 crore National Food Security Act households through ration shops for 3 months. Most of the beneficiaries will receive the quota for the first month within April or the latest by the first week of May.

    In the first move, several States and Union Territories (UT) will get the pulses for all three months. The remaining state will preferably within the third week of May.

    The operation will involve about 2 lakh truck trips and loading and unloading operation over a period of four weeks.

    For implementation, the Department of Consumer Affairs has set up five groups of officers headed by Joint Secretaries to coordinate with states, NAFED, Dal mills, and warehousing corporations. It is monitored on a daily basis.

    The move will meet the protein needs of people during this hour of crisis due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

    The Central government has allowed the use of its stock of pulses lying in about 165 NAFED godowns across the country for this scheme.

    Over 100 Dal mills across the country have been pressed into service so far. The States and UTs have taken one-third of the monthly requirement of pulses to final destinations for distribution.

    17 States and UTs including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu have begun distribution of pulses. So far, about 30,000 MT of pulses has been distributed.

    Many States and UTs, particularly the smaller ones like Andamans, Chandigarh, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Goa, Ladakh, Puducherry, and Lakshadweep have been provided with cleaned pulses for all 3 months.




  • Team led by IIT-Bombay student develops Ruhdaar, a low-cost mechanical ventilator
    A team from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)-Bombay, NIT Srinagar and Islamic University of Science & Technology (IUST), Awantipora, Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir has developed "Ruhdaar," a low-cost ventilator using locally available materials.

    This invention will solve the problem of the ventilator, which is the primary requirement to treat COVID-19 patients, as the high-end ventilators used in hospitals cost in lakhs of rupees.

    Ruhdaar:
    Ruhdaar provides necessary functionalities that can provide adequate breathing support necessary to save the life of a critically ill COVID-19 patient.
    The prototype cost around Rs.10,000, which can get reduced during mass production.

    The ventilator can be used to control the basic parameters such as tidal volume, Breaths per Minute, and Inspiratory: Expiratory Ratio.
    It can also monitor pressure continuously during its operation.




  • Andhra Pradesh CM launched Jagananna Vidya Deevena Scheme
    Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S.Jaganmohan Reddy launched the Jagananna Vidya Deevena Scheme on 28 April.

    Jagananna Vidya Deevena Scheme:
    Under the scheme over Rs.4,000 crore of funds have been released along with Rs.1880 crore towards the pending amount left by the earlier government.

    Under this scheme, fee reimbursement will be credited directly to mothers' accounts instead of college accounts in the coming academic year 2020-21.

    The state government will provide Fee reimbursement for ITI, B.Tech, B. Pharmacy, MBA, MCA, and B.Ed Courses.

    An amount of Rs.15,000 to Rs.20,000 will be offered for the eligible candidates through the Jagananna Vidya Deevena Scheme.

    Orders have been issued to the colleges to reimburse the entire fee amount paid by all the parents during the year 2018-19 and 2019-20.




  • UIDAI allows Aadhaar updation facility through CSCs
    Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has allowed the Common Service Centre (CSCs), an SPV under the Ministry of IT and Electronics, to begin the Aadhaar updation facility at its CSCs facility which operates as Banking Correspondents (BCs).

    The announcement was made by the Union Minister for Communications, MEITY, and Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad.

    Highlights:
    Around 20,000 CSCs will now be able to offer the service to citizens.

    The CSC Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE) will start the Aadhaar work with responsibility and as per instructions issued by UIDAI in this regard.

    This facility will help a large number of rural citizens to get Aadhar services closer to their place of residence.

    It would further strengthen the efforts of achieving the goals of “Digital India” as envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The move will act as a big relief during the lockdown restrictions imposed to prevent spread of COVID-19.




  • Assam govt announced Rs.50 lakh insurance cover to journalists
    Assam State government has announced an insurance cover of Rs.50 lakh for the frontline journalists who are covering COVID-19. The announcement was passed by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

    Highlights:
    Frontline journalists have been bravely covering COVID-19 against all odds by risking their lives.

    Earlier, the Assam state government had announced a similar insurance cover of Rs.50 lakh for health, police, and other frontline people engaged in the COVID-19 outbreak.

    The journalists association in the state, including the Guwahati Press Club, welcomed the initiative taken by the Assam government.

    According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the total number of COVID-19 positive cases in Assam stand at 36.




  • IIT-Bhubaneswar develop multi-surface sanitizer to disinfect devices
    IIT-Bhubaneswar has designed a safe and multi-surface sanitizer using UV light for the disinfection of devices in the combat against COVID-19.

    Highlights:
    When the infected object was placed into the chamber, it gets exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. The object would be disinfected within 15 minutes.

    The university has developed the chamber for the disinfection of masks, Personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by the doctors and devices like cell phones, etc as they cannot be disinfected with soap water.

    This device has been developed based on the results available for SARS COV-1 and the same device is expected to work for SARS COV-2.

    The device is yet to be certified by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for commercial use.

    The device was developed to control the number of deaths of healthcare workers due to COVID-19.




  • Railway Emergency Cell for COVID-19 responds to about 13,000 queries, requests, and suggestions
    Indian Railways has taken several measures to ensure that the interest of the passengers and all commercial clients are taken care of and national supply chains keep running.

    Indian Railways stopped passenger train operations during Lockdowns 1 & 2, to arrest the spread of COVID-19. Indian Railway has set up Railway Emergency Cell for COVID.

    Railway Emergency Cell for COVID:
    Railway Emergency Cell for COVID is a nationwide Unit comprising of about 400 Officers and staff from Railway Board to Divisions. During the lockdown, the Cell has responded to about 13,000 queries, requests, and suggestions every day so far.

    Five communication and feedback platforms including Helplines 139 and 138, social media (especially Twitter), email (railmadad@rb.railnet.gov.in), and Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS).

    The 24-hours working Indian Railways Emergency Cell for COVID leads to a fleet-footed response to redress grievances of both Railways' customers and the general public.

    RailMadad Helpline 139 answered over 2,30, 000 queries on a one-on-one basis in the first four weeks of the lockdown, in addition to queries answered by its Interactive voice response (IVRS) facility.

    Queries over 138 and 139 are mostly for the commencement of train services and the relaxed refund rules.

    Other Measures:
    Railways played a pivotal role in transporting life-saving drugs to people unable to procure them in lockdown.

    It started timetabled parcel trains for the time-bound delivery of essential items like life-saving drugs. RMS and other consignments struck at various points were also cleared using Parcel specials.

    Railways incorporated suggestions received from the public and simply made things happen.




  • Narendra Singh Tomar issued guidelines for SVAMITVA scheme and SOP for e-Gram Swaraj
    Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj Narendra Singh Tomar issued guidelines regarding the SVAMITVA scheme, a new initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. He also released a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) regarding e-Gram Swaraj.

    Aim:
    The aim of the program is to provide rural people with the right to document their residential properties so that they can use their property for economic purposes.

    SVAMITVA scheme:
    SVAMITVA scheme is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Panchayati Raj Departments, State Revenue Departments and Survey of India.

    The scheme aims to help in streamlining planning and revenue collection in rural areas and ensuring clarity on property rights. It will help in resolving property related disputes.

    The scheme will enable the creation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs), leveraging the maps created under this program.

    It also aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India, engaging the latest Drone Surveying technology, for demarcating the inhabitant (Aabadi) land in rural areas.

    The program is being implemented in six states namely Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

    Under this scheme, mapping of rural housing land can be done using the latest survey methods and drones.

    SOP of e-Gram Swaraj:
    SOP of e-Gram Swaraj e-Gram Swaraj will ensure that the funds given to the panchayats are not misused and transparency can be maintained in its use.

    The process will help in establishing a strong financial system by integrating the Priya Soft and PFMS, the payment portals of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

    It aims to bring in better transparency and strengthening of the e-Governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) across the country through decentralized planning, progress reporting, and work-based accounting. It will also assist in enhancing the credibility of Panchayats which would induce greater devolution of funds to PRIs.

    e-Gram Swaraj provides a platform for effective monitoring by higher authorities. It will be a single platform for all planning and accounting needs of the Panchayats.

    Also, the Online Payment Module (erstwhile PRIASoft-PFMS Interface (PPI)) is one of its kind whereby Gram Panchayats are carrying out online payments to the vendors and service providers. The main objective of introducing such a module is to have a sound financial management system in the Panchayats leading to their greater credibility and image.

    These measures are in line with the "Digital India Programme" which is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy "Faceless, Paperless, Cashless."




  • Prakash Javadekar stresses on climate finance in first virtual Petersberg Climate Dialogue
    Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar represented India in the first virtual Petersberg Climate Dialogue on 28 April. The first virtual Climate Dialogue was the eleventh session of Petersberg Climate Dialogue. It has been hosted by Germany since 2010.

    Highlight:
    The Dialogue aims to provide a forum for informal high-level political discussions.

    The meeting focused both on international climate negotiations and the advancement of climate action.

    Ministers and representatives of about 30 countries participated in the dialogue.

    Minister Javadekar urged to have climate technology as open-source which must be available at an affordable cost.

    He suggested adopting more sustainable consumption patterns in line with the requirement of sustainable lifestyles, as was first initiated by Prime Minister NarendraModi during the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP).

    The Union Minister also participated in an Indo-German bilateral meeting with Ms.SvenjaShulze, Minister, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany. The bilateral meeting was held through a video conference just before the Petersberg Climate Dialogue.




  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan began for monsoon
    Jal Shakti Abhiyan, under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, has provided various measures to combat the present health crisis. It has also taken several steps to boost the rural economy through its various components.

    In 2020, amid the COVID-19 emergency, and availability of large labour force in rural areas, the mission began its measures for the impending monsoon.

    Measures:
    Under the mission, a Joint Advisory has been issued from the Department of Rural Development, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Department of Land Resources, and Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation to all the Chief Secretaries of all States/ UTs.

    The guidelines include plans about the impending monsoon this year and the preparations to be done for water conservation and recharge which is of utmost importance for the country.
    The mission aims to ensure that all available resources be optimally deployed to catch the rain during the 2020 monsoon and preparatory activities are also well placed.




  • NTRO reports increased cyber attacks due to work from home
    National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) under National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) assessment states that India's critical sectors may fall prey to inimical forces that could use relaxations in geofencing restrictions granted to employees working from home to make cyber attacks.

    Highlights:
    The report highlighted that several sectors including government undertakings, strategic and public enterprises, banking and financial services, telecom, power, energy, and transport, among others, are susceptible to such attacks.

    The report also stated that several critical sector entities have relaxed their geofencing restrictions so that their employees can log-in and work from home. This has increased the cyber attack from neighbouring countries.

    The cybercriminals also send out legitimate-looking corona related advisories impersonating as officials from the government and health organizations, through malicious e-mail attachments. The cyber criminals act like they seek donations for COVID-19 and try to steal credentials for online fraud.

    The government had advised its employees who are working in critical sectors to be vigilant, and closely monitor privileged users and administrators of critical accounts.

    Ministry of Home Affairs also instructed the firms to track all CRUD (create-read-update-delete) activities in Identity and Access Management (IdAM) and focus on the resilience of backups against ransomware attacks.




  • Centre sanctioned Rs.33,300 crore under MGNREGA
    Centre sanctioned Rs.33,300 crore under MGNREGA out of which Rs.20, 624 crore has been released to liquidate all outstanding dues of previous years towards wages and material.

    The announcement was made by the Union Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. This sanctioned amount is expected to meet expenses under MGNRGA until June 2020.

    Highlights:
    The States and Union Territories (UTs) have been directed to proactively implement Rural Development Schemes relating to employment generation, rural housing, and infrastructure development.

    The States/UTs should take all necessary COVID-19 related precautions while implementing the schemes.

    Under MGNREGA, the focus should be on water conservation, groundwater recharge, and irrigation work in convergence with the Schemes of Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Department of Land Resources.

    Centre has already released Rs.36,400crore to the States in the current financial year.

    The move by the Centre aims to ensure that rural development schemes are implemented in an effective manner so that the pain arising out of COVID-19 is mitigated.




  • Task Force on NIP submits final report to Finance Minister
    The Task Force on National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) submitted its Final Report on the NIP for 2019-25 to the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman. The report holds several recommendations on general and sectoral reforms relating to Infrastructure for implementation by Centre and States in India.

    Aim:
    The taskforce of NIP aims to provide world-class infrastructure across the country and improve the quality of life for all citizens. The main objective is to improve the project preparation, attract investments both domestic and foreign into infrastructure which will be crucial for the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by FY 2025.

    Highlights:
    The report contained infrastructure trends in India along with global trends in all sectors of infrastructure.

    The report identified a set of reforms to scale up and propel infrastructure investments in various sectors throughout the country.

    It suggested methods and means of financing the NIP through deepening Corporate Bond markets, including the Municipal Bonds, setting up Development Financial Institutions for the infrastructure sector, accelerating Monetisation of Infrastructure Assets, Land monetization, etc.

    The Task Force has recommended setting up of 3 Committees namely:1) Committee to monitor NIP progress and eliminate delays
    2) Steering Committee in each Infrastructure ministry level for following-up implementation
    3) Steering Committee in DEA for raising financial resources for the NIR
    The report forecasts a total infrastructure investment of Rs.111 lakh crore during the period FY 2020-25 with the additional/amended data provided by Central Ministries/State Governments.




  • The Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID) 2020
    Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) released its Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID) 2020 on 29 April. The reports stated that 5 million people were displaced in India in 2019, the highest in the world, due to disasters, including cyclones and monsoon floods.

    Report Highlights:
    The report highlighted that the displacements were caused due to a combination of increasing hazard intensity, high population exposure, and high levels of social and economic vulnerability.

    India reported 50,37,000 displacements in 2019.

    As per the report Political and electoral violence, primarily in Tripura and West Bengal in the first half of the year, accounting for more than 7,600. Conflict and violence triggered about 19,000 new displacements and 2,89,000 people were evacuated in Gujarat in June ahead of cyclone Vayu in 2019. Also, Cyclone Bulbul in Odisha and West Bengal triggered 1,86,000 displacements.

    India's neighbouring countries Bangladesh recorded 40,86,520 displacements, Afghanistan recorded 40,86,520 displacements, Pakistan recorded 1,16,000 displacements, Nepal recorded 1,21,000 displacements.

    South Asia recorded a total of 9.5 million new displacements associated with disasters in 2019.




  • Ayushman Bharat Diwas 2020 is celebrated on 30 April
    Ayushman Bharat Diwas is celebrated on 30 April. The day aims to promote affordable medical facilities in remote areas of the country based on the Socio-Economic Caste Census database. It will also promote health and wellness and provide insurance benefits to the poor.

    Ayushman Bharat:
    Ayushman Bharat PradhanMantri Jan ArogyaYojana (AB PMJAY), also known as the National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM), was launched by PM NarendraModi on 14 April 2018, at Bijapur, Chhattisgarh.

    The scheme will enable the beneficiaries to take cashless benefits from public and private hospitals across the country.

    The scheme aims to cover 50 crore beneficiaries in India and it covers secondary and tertiary healthcare. So far, the scheme has benefitted 10 crore families in India, of which 8 crore families in rural areas and 2.33 crore families from urban areas.
    The Scheme includes various benefits with a cover of Rs.5 lakh per family to be given per year.




  • Maharashtra, Gujarat celebrates state formation day on 1 May
    Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day is celebrated in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat on 1 May every year to commemorates the formation of the state on this day in 1960.

    History:
    In 1960, the Bombay Reorganization Act, 1960 was passed by India's Parliament to divide the multilingual state of Bombay into Gujarat and Maharashtra. Bombay formerly consisted of speakers of different languages such as Gujarati, Marathi, Konkani, and Kutchi. As a result of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti movement, the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were formed.




  • Manipur Chak-Hao, Gorakhpur terracotta gets GI tag
    Chak-Hao, the black rice of Manipur, and the Gorakhpur terracotta bagged the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. The information was announced by Chinnaraja G. Naidu, deputy registrar, Geographical Indications.
    Chak-Hao:
    Chak-Hao is scented glutinous rice. It has been cultivated in Manipur over centuries. It is characterized by its special aroma. It is normally eaten during community feasts and is served as Chak-Haokheer. Chak-Hao has also been used by traditional medical practitioners as part of traditional medicine. This rice takes the longest cooking time of 40-45 minutes due to the presence of a fibrous bran layer and higher crude fibre content.

    Gorakhpur terracotta:
    The terracotta work of Gorakhpur is a centuries-old traditional art form. In this method, the potters make various animal figures like horses, elephants, camels, goats, ox, etc. with hand-applied ornamentation.

    The entire work is done with bare hands and artisans use natural colour, which stays fast for a long time. There are more than 1,000 varieties of terracotta work designed by the local craftsmen.

    The major products of craftsmanship include the Hauda elephants, Mahawatdar horse, deer, camel, five-faced Ganesha, singled-faced Ganesha, elephant table, chandeliers, hanging bells, etc.

    The craftsmen are mainly spread over the villages of Aurangabad, Bharwalia, LangadiGularia, Budhadih, Amawa, Ekla, etc. in Bhathat and Padri Bazar, Belwa Raipur, Jungle Ekla No-1, Jungle Ekla No-2 in Chargawan block of Gorakhpur.




  • DST launches programme YASH focus on COVID-19 pandemic
    National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST) launched 'Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)' a programme on health and risk communication with a focus on COVID-19.


    YASH Programme:

    YASH Programme is a comprehensive and effective science and health communication effort for promoting grass-root level appreciation and response on health and would help to save and shaping the lives of people at large and build confidence, inculcate a scientific temper, and promote health consciousness among them.

    The programme aims to convey the authentic best practices of cutting down on the transmission of coronavirus.

    The programme will encompass development of science, health, and risk communication software, publications, audio-visual, digital platforms, folk performances, trained communicators, especially in regional languages to cater to various cross-sections of the society in the country.

    Under the programme, strategies have been worked out to involve academic, research, media, and voluntary organizations to facilitate necessary actions and emergency preparedness of society to address the challenge.

    The programme is aimed at minimizing risks at all levels with the help of public communication and outreach activities, promoting public understanding of common minimum science for community care and health safety measures like personal sanitation and hygiene, physical distancing, maintaining desired collective behaviour and so on.




  • NGMA celebrated painter and artist Raja Ravi Varmas 172nd birth anniversary
    National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) paid tribute to celebrated painter and artist Raja Ravi Varma on his 172nd birth anniversary on 29 April 2020 through a virtual tour.

    This virtual tour showcased the entire collection of his artworks at reserve collection, NGMA in New Delhi. The website for Virtual Tour is http://www.ngmaindia.gov.in/virtual-tour-of-raja-ravi-varma.asp

    Who is Raja Ravi Varma?
    Raja Ravi Varma was born into an aristocratic family in Kerala on 29 April 1848. He was largely a self-taught artist as European techniques. He was a master at handling the oil medium and achieved magical ease with European naturalism.

    He represented the Hindu mythological stories so loved by the Indian imagination, with an illusionistic flair that mirrored the society of his time. He excelled as a portrait painter and a painter of various other genres like history painting, painting of female figures, and so on. His dramatic history paintings influenced the pioneers of Indian cinema like Dadasaheb Phadke and Baburao Painter. He was also a poet, scholar, and visionary far beyond his times.




  • Ministry of Coal launched a Project Monitoring Unit to facilitate early operationalisation of coal mines
    Ministry of Coal (MoC) launched a Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) for the facilitation of early operationalization of coal mines allocated by the Central Government. The move will promote Ease of Doing Business.

    Highlights:
    PMC will support the Coal mines allocatees in obtaining timely approval or permissions to operationalize the mines.

    The allocates to freely utilize the services of the Consultant in sorting out their issues so that the coal production may begin at the earliest.

    The Unit will help the allocatees of coal mines in obtaining various clearances required from the Central and State government authorities for the operationalization of coal mines. It will lead to a ramping up of coal production in the country.

    This move aims to attract bidders for the ensuing auction round of commercial blocks. This measure will improve the production and business environment in the coal industry.

    M/s KPMG, has been appointed as the Consultant, in Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) through a transparent bidding process.




  • AYURAKSHA programme was organized for Delhi Police
    A programme titled AYURAKSHA "Corona Se Jung- Delhi Police Ke Sang" was organized for Delhi Police personnel at New Delhi on 30 April. The programme aims to fight against corona through simple and time tested Ayurveda immunity-boosting measures.

    The AYURAKSHA programme was organized by the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), under the Ministry of Ayurvedic, Yoga, and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH) and Delhi Police.




  • NLC India Limited commences Coal production for the first time
    NLC India Limited has commenced the production of Coal for the first time. The coal produced from Talabira II and III Mines in Odisha will be used to meet the requirement of its existing and future coal-fired power plants. Odisha state allotted the mines to NLCIL in 2016 with a capacity of 20 Million Tonne (MT) per annum.


    Highlights:

    The move by the company will aid the energy security of the country especially as the country is currently avoiding import of coal.

    This coal block has been developed through the mine developer and operator (MDO) model which is innovatively developed and successfully implemented by the NLC team.

    This Mine has a low stripping ratio of 1.09 and coal is of G 12 grade which will enable the company to generate competitive power. The coal production commenced on 26 April 2020.

    Earlier, NLC India Limited has successfully commissioned its one of the two Units of lignite based power plant, 1000 MW-2 Units of 500 MW each, the first of its kind in the country. During 2019-2020, NLCIL has also successfully achieved a Renewable Energy Generation capacity of 1404 MW comprising 1353 MW of Solar and 51 MW of Wind Power.




  • Procurement operations of Pulses and Oilseeds directly from Farmers
    The union government of India made Central Nodal Agencies like NAFED and FCI striving to assure better returns for the farmers. The Minimum Support Price (MSP) from the farmers in several States in the Rabi 2020-21 season has started.

    Procurement of Pulses & Oilseeds at MSP from farmers under the Price Support Scheme (PSS) scheme in Rabi 2020-21 season currently in progress in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan.

    The quantity of 1,33,987.65 MT of Pulses & 29,264.17 MT of Oilseeds was procured by NAFED/FCI valued at Rs 784.77 Crores through which 1,14,338 farmers have been benefited.

    Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) scheme and Toor procurement under PSS/PSF Kharif 2019- 20 season is underway in the States of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka &Telangana. The procurement of pulses and oilseeds in the Kota Division was stopped after the announcement of lockdown.

    About 27,276.77 MT of Mustard seed has been procured from about 10,111 farmers in the first two days. Procurement of Gram, Masoor, and Mustard in Madhya Pradesh.




  • Power Ministry floats draft Electricity Act Bill 2020
    The supply of quality power at affordable prices is essential for sustained growth of the economy of the country. Ministry of Power issued a draft proposal for amendment of Electricity Act, 2003 in the form of the draft Electricity Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020 for comments/suggestions from Stakeholders on 17th April 2020.

    Cost reflective Tariff:
    Direct Benefit Transfer: The tariff is determined by Commissions without taking into account the subsidy.
    1. Establishment of Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority: High Court is proposed to be set-up with powers of the Civil Court to enforce performance of contracts related to purchase or sale or transmission of power.
    2. Payment Security Mechanism for scheduling of electricity - Load Dispatch Centres to oversee the establishment of adequate payment security mechanism before scheduling dispatch of electricity, as per contracts.
    3. Appellate Tribunal (APTEL): APTEL to seven apart from the Chairperson so that multiple benches can be set-up to facilitate quick disposal of cases.
    4. Multiple Selection Committees: It is proposed to have one Selection Committee for selection of Chairpersons and Members of the Central and State Commissions and uniform qualifications for appointments of Chairperson and Members of Central and State Electricity Regulatory Commissions.
    5. Penalties: In order to ensure compliance of the provisions of the Electricity Act and orders of the Commission, section 142 and section 146 of the Electricity Act are proposed to be amended to provide for higher penalties.




  • CSIR and CFTRIs protein-enriched biscuits for COVID-19 patients
    Mysuru-based CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CRTRI) made available high-protein biscuits to the corona affected patients in the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi.

    CFTRI supplied 500 kg of high-protein biscuits and 500 kg of high-protein rusks to the Dietetics department of AIIMS to supply to the patients. The biscuits contain 14% of protein while usual biscuits contain around 8-9% protein.

    The ingredients made available of the biscuits: whole wheat flour (Atta), wheat flour (Maida), sugar, hydrogenated fat, soya flour, whey protein, soy protein, milk solids, glucose, INS 500II and INS 503II agents, salt and flavours. A 100-g packet of biscuits clearly pack a punch with its energy quotient of 400 kcal and its nutritional value: carbohydrate (63.2 g), protein (14 g), fat (17.1 g) and minerals (1.2 g).

    The biscuits being manufactured in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, by Seven Seas Private Limited based on the formulation developed by CSIR-CFTRI.




  • Shri Santosh Gangwar designate Nodal Officers for resolving Grievances of Workers
    Union Minister of State (I/C) for Labour and Employment Shri Santosh Gangwar requested various State/UT Governments to designate a nodal officer from Labour Department.

    The main aim is to coordinate with Control Rooms set up by the Union Government for addressing issues of the labour/workers in the country.

    Ministry of Labour and Employment recently set up 20 Control Rooms under the Chief Labour Commissioner (C) on pan India basis due to issues of workers arising in the backdrop of COVID-19.

    Initially, Control Rooms were concerned with wage-related grievances related to the central sphere and issues of migrant labour. Around 20 Control Rooms till yesterday, 1400 pertains to various State/UT Governments. Central Control Rooms along with names of officers deputed by the Central Government for ready reference.




  • Ten lakhs rupees compensation to all Postal employees
    Department of Posts planned to extend the payment of compensation of 10 lakh rupees to all postal employees including Gramin Dak Sevaks employees to the corona disease.

    Department of Posts comes under essential services and the employees are performing various routine duties along with delivering COVID-19 test kits, food packets, rations, and essential medicines across the country.

    The Department of Posts has decided to extend the payment of compensation of 10 lakh rupees to all postal employees, including Gramin Dak Sevaks succumbing to the corona disease.

    The guidelines will come into effect with immediate effect and continue for the period until the crises of COVID-19 is over. Postal employees perform various duties such as providing mail delivery to customers, Post Office Saving Bank, Postal Life Insurance, the ease of money withdrawal at his/her doorstep from any bank and any branch under the AePS facility.




  • TVS acquires Britain iconic sporting motorcycle brand Norton
    TVS Motor Company announced the acquisition of the UK’s most iconic sporting motorcycle Norton for £16 million, by acquiring certain assets of Norton Motorcycles (U.K.)
    The brand is known for its classic models and eclectic range of luxury motorcycles, ranging from the authentic retro classic reboots. Finally TVS Motor Singapore Pte. Ltd signed an asset purchase agreement with Norton Motorcycles Holdings Ltd and Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd

    TVS Motor enhanced its cost-reduction measures. The focus would be on developed markets.
    The company has committed to absorbing all 55-60 employees. Due to the challenges it had in the last few years, the firm feels the scale-up potential to create value is quite large.
    TVS is excited about existing and upcoming products at Norton Motorcycles, including Commando, Dominator, and V4 RR.




  • Kisan Rath Mobile App launched to facilitate transportation of food grains
    Agriculture Ministry launched Kisan Rath Mobile App. The main aim of the app is to facilitate transportation of food grains, and the National Informatics Centre develops it. The central government to ensure farmers and traders can find transport for Agriculture and Horticulture produce.

    Kisan Rath App:
    The Kisan Rath App will greatly facilitate farmers' FPOs and Cooperatives in the country to find a suitable transport facility to transfer their agriculture produce from the farm gate to markets.

    The Government has exempted random selection of test samples, subsequent batch testing after the expiry validity of test reports, updating of CMVR, COP & Type approval applicable to Tractors, Power Tillers, Combine Harvesters and other self-propelled agricultural machinery till 31.12.2020.

    Testing of tractors as per revised BIS Standard IS 12207-2019 and Implementation of new technical critical specifications of 51 agricultural machineries has also been deferred till 31.12.2020.During lockdown period, the Government has agreed to extend the validity of the license of Seed dealers which are expired or going to be expired till 30.09.2020.

    The validity of import permissions till September 2020 after consideration of the requirement of seed/planting material of the importing parties. They extend the validity of all pack-houses, processing units and treatment facilities whose validity is expiring up to 30th June 2020 for a period of one year without a physical inspection of such facility through a simplified procedure to facilitate the export of agriculture products.




  • Government extends regular and e-visas of all foreigners stranded till May 3
    Home Ministry extended regular and e-visas of all foreigners who are stranded in India due to the coronavirus lockdown till May 3 on a gratis basis. The Home Ministry also said the visa granted to those foreigners, except diplomats and UN officials, who are supposed to come to India, will remain suspended till May 3.

    The home ministry said that after considering the matter, it has been decided to extend the period of providing consular services by the Office of Foreigners Regional Registration Officers and Foreigners Registration Officers to foreign nationals, presently stranded in India.
    Exit to such foreign nationals, if requested during this period, will also be granted up to 14 days beyond May 3, i.e. May 17, without any overstay penalty.




  • Ministry of Road launched website to aid drivers and cargos during lockdown
    The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) launched a dashboard link on its website on 20th April. The website aims to aid drivers who travel to different places in the country.

    Highlights:
    The website provides a list and details of Dhabas and Truck repair shops available across the country by various organizations like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), States, Oil Marketing companies.

    The list can be accessed at https://morth.nic.in/dhabas-truck-repair-shops-opened-during-covid-19.

    The website will facilitate the truck and the cargo drivers and cleaners in their movement while traveling between different places of the country for delivering required goods during the lockdown which was imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Regular contact is being maintained with various stakeholders particularly States/UTs, Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), etc in providing information that is then updated on the dashboard link on the MoRTH website.

    NHAI's centralized call number 1033 has also been enabled to answer calls and help drivers/cleaners to find information about the dhabaas and repair shops along National Highways.

    It may be stated that these Dhabas and repair shops, drivers, cleaners or any other person in the chain of movement of goods, shall follow all the necessary precautions and healthcare protocols of social distancing, use of masks, hygiene, etc.




  • India sets up high-level task force to develop vaccine for COVID-19 pandemic
    Government of India formed a high-level task force to research on coronavirus and develop a vaccine. The task force will work along with the international community on the vaccine development process for coronavirus.

    High-level taskforce:
    The high-level task force will be co-chaired by Member, NITI Aayog, and Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Professor K Vijay Raghavan.

    The central coordinating authority of the task force is the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

    The task force is to set up a process for vaccine development.

    It will make a list of national and international organizations working on vaccine development. DBT will monitor the progress of research works and also facilitate the process.

    The task force will create clinical cohorts that focus on long term follow-up of people for a better understanding of the disease. It will also collect bio-specimens which will form the basis for further trials of drugs and vaccines. This is different from sample testing protocols.

    Over 70 clinical trials are taking place all over the world to find a vaccine for coronavirus. At least 5 have entered the human trial stage. Indian companies, including the Serum Institute, ZydusCadila, Bharat Biotech and Biological E are also working on the vaccine, but they are in the preclinical stage.




  • Study says renewable energy subsidies in India dropped by 35 percent in 2016-19 period.
    A new study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) report stated that India's renewable energy subsidies fell 35% between 2016-17 and 2018-19.

    Report Highlights:
    The report was titled "Mapping India's Energy Subsidies 2020" which said that the support for renewable energy was to increase again. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made it critical to stay on track.
    Policy decisions such as the solar safeguard duty and tariff caps on auctions meant that there was a slowdown in new capacity addition and as a result of lower state subsidy outgo as well.

    Those resources post-COVID-19 will present a good opportunity for the government to rein in specific fossil fuel subsidies and create more fiscal room to promote renewables and other welfare schemes.
    It also said that the oil and gas subsidies, however, increased by 65% in the same period.




  • UP became the first state in India to geotag its 7,368 community kitchens
    Uttar Pradesh became the first state in India to geotag its 7,368 community kitchens and community shelters across 75 districts which produce 12 lakh food packets a day.

    Highlights:
    The UP state government has partnered with Google to 'Geo-map' the locations of all these establishments on the Google Maps app for ease of beneficiaries.
    The state government has established community kitchens in adequate numbers in each of the 75 districts.

    More than two crore food packets have been distributed in Uttar Pradesh since 25 March.
    Out of these 7,368 community kitchens in the state, 668 are being run by NGOs and religious institutions.

    The government faced a challenge during the lockdown about passing the information among the general populace regarding the location of shelter homes and community kitchens. To solve this issue, the IT Department and the Remote Sensing Applications Centre (RSAC), Lucknow, are developing for a solution.




  • States, UTs to ensure Smooth Movement of the entire Supply Chain of essential goods.
    Centre issued an order to exempt certain activities under the consolidated revised guidelines to all Ministries/Departments of the country. The announcement was made by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

    Highlights:
    As per clause 14(v) of the consolidated revised guidelines, MHA excluded the companies relating to E-commerce companies.

    The operations of e-commerce companies for non-essential goods stand prohibited and they will continue to operate for essential goods as has been allowed earlier and continue to be allowed under the guidelines.

    The government earlier approved that the vehicles used by e-commerce operators would be allowed to ply with necessary permissions.

    The States/UTs have been directed to clarify the announcement of MHA to all the field agencies. It also adequately disseminated amongst the general public to ensure smooth movement of the entire supply chain of essential goods, including by e-commerce.

    It has also been communicated that the guidelines/ Orders issued by the State Governments/UT Administration in pursuance to MHA Orders may be suitably modified to reflect the correct position.




  • Centre launched online data pool of critical human resource to combat COVID-19 pandemic
    Government of India has created an online data pool on https://covidwarriors.gov.in of doctors including Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, volunteers from National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Service Scheme (NSS), Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), ex-Servicemen, etc. The data pool aims for use by the ground level administration at state, district or municipal levels.

    Highlights:
    The Dashboard master database of details of Healthcare Professionals and Volunteers contains state wise and district wise availability of the large pool of human resources from various groups along with contact details of the nodal officers.

    The dashboard is available for use by various authorities to prepare Crisis Management/Contingency Plans based on the available manpower, in coordination with nodal officers for each group.

    This database can also be used to utilize the services of volunteers for enforcing social distancing at banks, ration shops, mandis and for providing help to elderly, divyang and orphanages.

    It will help States/UTs to move human resources from one location to the other for their utilization.

    Background:
    Earlier, Centre has also launched iGOT online training modules mounted on an especial digital platform Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT) portal (https://igot.gov.in) for training and capacity building of doctors, nurses, paramedics, hygiene workers, technicians, AYUSH doctors and staff, other frontline workers and volunteers. This platform provides anytime onsite delivery of training material/modules through any device (mobile/laptop/desktop).

    Government of India has constituted 11 Empowered Groups to formulate plans and provide solutions to address the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. Empowered Group headed by Dr.Panda, Secretary, MSME was mandated with identification of human resources for various COVID-19 related activities along with necessary capacity building for them.




  • Secretary’s day is observed on 21 April
    Secretary's day or Administrative Professionals Day is observed on 21 April every year in India. The day aims to celebrate the administrative professionals who work as the glue in keeping a business together. The Secretary's week is observed on the last full week in April of each year.

    History:
    The National Secretary's Day was created in 1952 through the work of Harry F. Klemfuss of Young and Rubicam. He recognized the importance and value of the secretarial position to a company and management. He promoted the values and importance of the job that secretaries do and created the holiday in recognition of the importance of secretaries. The day aims to encourage more women to become secretaries.

    The two new names of the word "Secretary" used these days are "Administrative Professionals" and "Executive Administrators."




  • Harsh Vardhan launched the COVID India Seva
    Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan launched the COVID India Seva on 21 April.

    The interactive platform aims to establish a direct channel of communication with millions of Indians amid the pandemic.

    Highlights:
    The initiative is aimed at enabling transparent e-governance delivery in real-time and answering citizen queries swiftly, at scale, especially in crisis situations like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
    Through this platform, people can pose queries @CovidIndiaSeva and get them responded to in almost real-time.

    @CovidIndiaSeva works off a dashboard at the backend that helps process large volumes of tweets, converts them into resolvable tickets, and assigns them to the relevant authority for real-time resolution.

    Everyone can benefit from the responses received around common queries because of its transparency. It is important to note that the Ministry will respond to broader queries and public health information. This does not require the public to share personal contact details or health record details.




  • Daporijo Bridge was inaugurated in Arunachal pradesh for traffic movement
    Border Roads Organisation (BRO) constructed the Daporijo bridge over the Subansiri river. Despite nationwide lockdown, BRO constructed it, keeping in mind utmost precautions against COVID-19 and to connect the strategic Line of Communication in Arunachal Pradesh.

    The bridge was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Arunachal Shri Pema Khandu over video conferencing and open for traffic movement from 20 April.

    Daporijo bridge:
    Bridge on the Daporijo River is a strategic link towards the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. All supplies, rations, constructional material and medicines pass over this bridge.

    The Old Bridge developed cracks which could lead to a major catastrophe. With the intervention of DGBR and CE Arunank, expeditious sanctions were obtained from the Ministry of Defence and Arunachal Government.

    Work for construction of the bridge began on 17 March 2020. After 27 days on 14 April 2020, the bridge was jacked down successfully and safely on the supports.

    The bridge was successfully upgraded from class 24 tons to class 40 tons. This will now allow heavier vehicles to pass catering for not only Army requirements but the future Infrastructure development requirements of Upper Subansiri district.




  • Ramesh Pokhriyal chaired the review meeting on SWAYAM and SWAYAM Prabha in New Delhi
    Union Minister for Human Resource Development (MHRD) Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' held a detailed review of the National online education platform SWAYAM and the 32 DTH Television Education Channels SWAYAM PRABHA in New Delhi on 20 April.

    During the lockdown, there occurred a tremendous increase in demand and the usage of SWAYAM Courses and SWAYAM PRABHA videos.

    Highlights:
    SWAYAM:
    SWAYAM was launched in 2017 by MHRD, GoI. Currently, there are 1902 courses available in SWAYAM. It has been offered to 1.56 crore students. Over 26 lakh students are taking 574 courses on offer.

    SWAYAM 2.0 also supports the launch of Online degree programs. Mapping of SWAYAM courses to the AICTE model curriculum has been done, gaps identified. A similar exercise for non-technical courses is underway by a committee of UGC.

    It was decided that all the 1900 SWAYAM Courses and 60000 SWAYAM PRABHA videos would be translated into ten regional languages and made available to the students so that more benefits can be derived from the same. The whole project has been scheduled to be completed in a time-bound manner.

    MHRD has announced to provide more courses under SWAYAM, appropriate incentives for their career will be provided. Also, UGC was asked to prepare guidelines regarding online and Distance learning guidelines to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio.

    SWAYAM Prabha:
    The SWAYAM PRABHA is a group of 32 Direct-to-home television (DTH) channels devoted to telecasting high-quality educational programs on 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite. There will be new content for a minimum of 4 hours which will be repeated 5 more times in a day, allowing the students to choose the time of their convenience.

    SWAYAM Prabha has been directed to redistribute the channels to match available content, and viewership shall be explored. It was also decided to enrich the content in SWAYAM PRABHA by collecting content from those who are willing to contribute the same under Vidya Daan Programme. For the translation of the content of four IIT-PAL channels, CBSE, NIOS shall provide all assistance to IIT-Delhi. This matter shall be followed up by JS( IEC) in MHRD.




  • GoI released Rs.17,793 crore Under PM-KISAN Scheme farmer families during lockdown.
    The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare of Government of India has taken several measures to facilitate the farmers and farming activities at field level during the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.

    Measures:
    Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme, over 8.89 crore farmer families have been benefitted. A total amount of Rs.17,793 crore has been released so far.

    The Government has decided to distribute pulses to the eligible households under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY). It aimed to provide food security during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 107,077.85 MT pulses have been issued to the States/Union Territories so far.

    Under PMGKY, the States/UTs namely Andaman and Nicobar, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Daman & Diu, Goa, Gujarat have commenced the distribution of pulses to the beneficiaries. The other states like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal have received the partial stock. The states will commence the distribution to the beneficiaries in a phased manner as per their plan.

    The distribution of pulses under PMGKY will benefit around 19.50 crore households spread across 36 States and UTs.




  • Union Govt refutes claims of procuring wristbands embedded with ArogyaSetu app
    ArogyaSetu app helps people self-assess and track COVID-19 infections more accurately and effectively. The government is now working towards procuring thousands of wristbands that will be integrated with the app.

    These bands will help medical personnel and authorities keep track of the movement of patients in hospitals and those under self-quarantine along with supporting frontline workers to take proper safety measures

    Once integrated with AarogyaSetu app, there will be many more parameters that will be available for the health officials’ supervision.

    The price of these bands will be ranging at around Rs 2200 per piece. However, the prices may go down if the demand reduces.

    The development comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is showing no signs of slowing its spread across the globe. The total tally of positive cases in India this morning was at 20,178 with 645 deaths.

    For its launch, Broadcast Engineering Consultants India (BECIL) will be looking after the technological requirements of the government and is working with various Bengaluru and Gurugram based startups on designing the tools. It will also work with AIIMS and other government hospitals, the report said.

    Recently, the government-promoted AarogyaSetu app had alarmed some activists and people alike over privacy issues. Many privacy crusaders have been expressing serious concerns over the kind of surveillance Aarogya Setup could lead to.

    In its response, the government had denied the charges as baseless that the app will be used for surveillance. The app had also become the fastest to amass 50 million-plus downloads within just two weeks of its launch.

    A few Indian states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala are also using home quarantine tracking systems and GPS solutions. Hong Kong too has deployed tracker wristbands to geofence people placed under quarantine.




  • India Drops 2 Places to Rank 142nd on Global Press Freedom Index
    World Press Freedom Index 2020 murders of journalists in India in 2019, as against six in the year 2018 and the security situation for the country's media might seem on the face.

    India dropped two places on a global press freedom index to be ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the annual Reporters without Borders analysis.

    Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), or Reporters without Borders, is a non-profit organization that works to document and combat attacks on journalists around the world.

    Norway is ranked first in the Index for the fourth year running. China in the 177th position is just three places above North Korea, which is on 180th.

    South Asia features poorly on the Index, with Pakistan dropping three places to 145, and Bangladesh dropping one place to 151.




  • Ministry of Tourism presented its 7th webinar of Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series
    Ministry of Tourism presented its 7th webinar of Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series on "Photowalking at Varanasi: A Visual Treat," on 23 April 2020.

    Varanasi: A Visual Treat:
    The Varanasi: A Visual Treat webinar was presented by the team of City Explorers Private Limited.

    They introduced Varanasi's diversity, mysticism, spirituality, cultural literacy, life experiences, and personal memories.

    It showcased Varanasi as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world hidden at every corner along with one of the finest river frontages in India.

    The series also touched upon the shifting hues of Varanasi’s ancient history, cultural heritage, spiritual connection, delicious cuisines through each pitstop.

    DekhoApnaDesh webinar:
    The Ministry will showcase the diverse and remarkable history and culture of India including its natural landscapes, monuments, cuisine, arts, dance forms, festivals, and many other aspects of the rich Indian civilization. It also holds a session that raises awareness about tourism and social history. The webinar series will be available on the Ministry of Tourism's social media handles, "IncredibleIndia" on Instagram and Facebook.




  • Defence Minister launched Mobile Virology Research and Diagnostics Laboratory
    Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled a Mobile Virology Research and Diagnostics Laboratory (MVRDL) via video conference on 23rd April.

    The laboratory was developed by DRDO in association with ESIC Hospital, Hyderabad, the Private industry. The launching of this testing facility will aid the country to fight COVID-19.

    MVRDL:
    Biosafety Level 2 and Level 3 lab will help to process more than 1,000 samples in a day. It will enhance the country's capabilities in fighting COVID-19.

    MVRL related R&D activities was developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), the Hyderabad based laboratory of DRDO in consultation with ESIC Hospital, Hyderabad.
    The labs are built as per the World Health Organization (WHO) and ICMR Bio-safety standards to meet international guidelines.

    The labs have built-in electrical controls, LAN, Telephone cabling, and CCTV.
    The Mobile Lab will carry out the diagnosis of COVID-19.

    It will also help in virus culturing for drug screening, Convalescent plasma-derived therapy, comprehensive immune profiling of COVID-19 patients towards vaccine development early clinical trials specific to the Indian population.
    This mobile lab can be positioned anywhere in the country, as per requirement.




  • CSIR-IGIB develops FELUDA, a low-cost coronavirus test for detection of the pathogen
    Scientists from the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) have developed 'Feluda', a low-cost coronavirus test for detection of the pathogen. It will not require any expensive machines.

    Feluda:
    The device 'Feluda' was named after the detective character in legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray's stories.
    The test was developed by Debojyoti Chakraborty and Souvik Maiti. It is expected that this test will be a simpler way of detecting SARS-coV2 presence in clinical samples.
    The start of the test method is similar to the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), where the ribonucleic acid (RNA) is extracted and converted into DNA.

    But the newly developed method differs by using a specifically designed PCR reaction to amplify a part of the viral nucleic acid sequence. After this, a highly specific CRISPR, FnCAS9 binds to that sequence which can be visualized as a positive band. CRISPR, FnCAS9 were developed at IGIB.

    The method uses fluorescent reporters, to amplify and detect viral nucleic acid presence.
    The total time required for the test is less than one hour.
    Implementation of the method requires expensive Real-Time PCR machines that are available at specialized sites.

    After successful validation by regulatory agencies, it would allow the test to be done in local path-labs that do not have expensive real-time PCR machines, but simple cheap thermo-blocks used for conventional PCR.




  • Karnataka launched Apthamitra helpline and app to fight against coronavirus
    The Karnataka State government launched the "Apthamitra" helpline on 22 April. It was aimed to empower people in the state's fight against coronavirus. It was launched by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.

    The system and website are owned by Health and Family Welfare Department and State Disaster Management Authority. The system functions under the aegis of NASSCOM, Bengaluru. Also, the Digital Mobile app was developed by Infosys BPM.

    Apthamitra:
    Apthamitra is provided with an exclusive toll-free number and a mobile app. It was aimed to provide required medical advice and guidance for those in need during the lockdown.

    Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus can call the helpline from their home, get medical advice or assistance, and get their doubts cleared.

    Based on the symptoms said by the customer, an expert team of doctors will provide suggestions and guidance.

    The 'Apthamitra' helpline will function from 8 am to 8 pm. The helpline Centers are located at six locations in Bengaluru (4 centers), Mysore and Mangalore (Bantwal) with a total of 300 seat capacity.

    It is a 2-tier system. Tier I is manned by AYUSH or nursing or pharma final year volunteer students and tier-II is manned by MBBS or Integrated Medicine or AYUSH volunteer doctors.

    It will connect the people from their respective locations for risk assessment, counselling, telemedicine, and referral for testing and treatment.

    The helpline "14410" will cover residents in all parts of the state.

    The 'Apthamitra' App will help smartphone users to seek advice for telemedicine from doctors directly.

    The initiative will help people to identify the people who have Influenza-Like Illness (ILI), Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SERI), coronavirus like symptoms, or having a high risk of getting infected.

    It will identify people with low risk, but having some symptoms similar to those of coronavirus and provide them telemedicine support with OTC medicines, and counsel them for self-quarantine.




  • Cabinet approves Rs.15,000 crore for India COVID-19 Emergency Response
    The Union Cabinet led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved significant investments to the tune of Rs.15,000 crore for 'India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package'.

    Highlights:
    The funds will be utilized in 3 Phases. Out of the total amount, an amount of Rs.7,774 crore will be used for immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response and the rest of the amount for medium-term support, of around 1-4 years, will be provided under mission mode approach.

    The main objectives of the package will support the mounting emergency response to slow and limit COVID-19 in India through the development of diagnostics and COV1D-19 dedicated treatment facilities. It will also provide aid to the centralized procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for the treatment of infected patients, strengthen and build resilient National and State health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks.

    Under this, the Centre will set up laboratories and bolster surveillance activities, biosecurity preparedness, pandemic research and proactively engage communities and conduct risk communication activities.

    The interventions and proactive initiatives would be implemented under the overall umbrella of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

    Phase I aims to strengthen existing health facilities as COVID Dedicated Hospitals, Dedicated COVID Health Center, and Dedicated COVID Care Centers.

    It will also provide detailed guidelines, protocols, and advisory for quarantine, isolation, testing, treatment, disease containment, decontamination, social distancing, and surveillance.

    The amount will be used for mounting robust emergency response, strengthening National and State health systems followed by strengthening pandemic research and multi-sector national institutions and platforms for One-Health, community engagement, and risk communications and implementation, management, capacity building, monitoring, and evaluation components.




  • Manipur commemorated ‘Khongjom Day’ at Khongjom War Memorial Complex
    Manipur state government commemorated Khongjom Day at Khongjom War Memorial Complex, Thoubal on 23rd April, 2020. The state paid tribute to the valiant people who fought in the Anglo-Manipuri War in 1891.

    Khongjom Day:
    The last battle fought between the Manipur kingdom and the British Empire was the 1891 armed conflict. The battle was fought in Kheba Hill of Khongjom in the Thoubal district. Manipur Kingdom lost the war. It marked the beginning of British rule in the then princely state. Since then, the Manipur state government has been observing 23 April as 'Khongjom Day' every year.




  • Shilpa Medicare launched the anti-cancer drug Dasashil
    Shilpa Medicare launched its generic version of cancer drug Dasatinib. The monthly therapy cost of Rs.6,440. The company launched the Indian branded generic of Dasatinib, an anti-cancer drug with a brand name "Dasashil."

    Dasashil:
    Dasashil, the branded generic anti-cancer drug, will be available in all dosage strengths of 20 mg, 50 mg, 70 mg, and 100 mg tablets.
    The drug is used for the treatment of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML).

    Dasashil will revolutionize the treatment by ensuring to make therapy available for more Indian patients due to increased affordability.
    The products are being manufactured and supplied from the company's US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved manufacturing facility.
    The drug can benefit around 10,000 to 15,000 new patients of CML in India.




  • Union HRD Minister launched Alternative Academic Calendar for the upper primary stage
    Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ released the alternative academic calendars at the upper primary stage (Classes VI to VIII) on 23 April. The calendars were developed by the NCERT under the guidance of the MHRD.

    Aim:
    The move by the government is to engage students meaningfully during their stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic through educational activities at home with the help of their parents and teacher. The Calendar will empower the students, teachers, school principals, and parents to find out positive ways to deal with COVID-19 using on-line teaching-learning resources and also improving their learning outcomes by getting school education at home.

    New Academic Calendar:
    The Calendar will provide guidelines to the teachers on the use of various technological tools and social media tools available for imparting education in fun-filled, interesting ways, which can be used by learners, parents, and teachers even while at home.

    The varying levels of access to such tools like Mobile, Radio, Television, SMS, and various social media were taken into account.

    The calendar guides teachers to further guide parents and students through SMS on mobile phones or through voice calls.

    The calendar holds a week-wise plan. It consists of interesting and challenging activities including various themes or chapters taken from syllabus or textbook. The themes and the learning outcomes are mapped to facilitate teachers/parents to assess the progress in the learning of children and also to go beyond textbooks.

    It will cover experiential learning activities such as Arts Education, Physical Exercises, yoga, pre-vocational skills, etc.

    The Calendar contains class-wise and subject-wise activities related to four languages as subject areas namely Hindi English, Urdu, and Sanskrit in tabular forms.

    The calendar includes a link for Chapter wise e-content available on the e-pathshala, NROER, and DIKSHA portal of GoI.

    The calendar also reduces stress and anxiety among teachers, students, and parents.

    The Alternative Academic Calendar for the primary stage has been released by the Union HRD Minister on 16th April 2020. The remaining classes, that is, IX to XII and subject areas, will be covered under this calendar.




  • Minister of HRD launched the #MyBookMyFriendcampaign
    Union Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' launched the #MyBookMyFriendcampaign on social media on 23 April on the occasion of World Book Day. World Book Day was celebrated amid the lockdown in India.

    #MyBookMyFriendcampaign:
    The campaign aims to support the students at the time of lock down.

    The students must read some books of interest in addition to course books so that they will be given the opportunity to learn something new.

    Various Union Ministers and prominent personalities from various parts of India were suggested to join the campaign.

    The campaign is expected to inspire all the countrymen.

    #MyBookMyFriend campaign will run for the next 7 days.

    People across India can join the campaign and gain benefits.




  • National Panchayati Raj Day is observed on 24 April
    The National Panchayati Raj Day is observed on 24 April in India every year. On this day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed village Panchayats across the country to mark the National Panchayati Raj Day.

    Significance:
    On this day, the Constitution of India recognized Panchayats as 'Institutions of self-government'. It marks the passing of the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 with effect from 24 April 1993.

    As per the amendment, the states are empowered to carry out steps to organize village panchayats. The states can provide them with the necessary powers and authority necessary to facilitate them to function as units of self-government.

    What is Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992?
    The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 came into force with effect from 24 April 1993. The Act vested "Constitutional status" on Panchayati Raj institutions.

    The 73rd Amendment added the "Part IX" titled "The Panchayats" to the Constitution of India. It covers provisions from Article 243 to 243(O). Also, a new XI Schedule that covers 29 subjects within the functions of the Panchayats was added. It implemented Article 40 of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) which says that the State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority. It is necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.

    History:
    National Panchayati Raj Day was celebrated for the first time in 2010. The enactment of the 73rd Amendment Act helped in the decentralization of political power to the grassroots level. The act also led to the institutionalization of Panchayati Raj through the village, Intermediate and District level Panchayats.




  • Around 32 crore people receive benefits under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package
    Centre has provided over Rs.28,000 crore support through Direct Benefit Transfer to around 32 crore beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) announced in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    GoI's measures:
    Ministry of Finance has announced around Rs.14,000 crore to 7 crore farmers under PM-KISAN. The fund has been directly transferred to approximately.

    GoI has also given around Rs.10,000 crore to over 19 crore Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) women account holders and Rs.3,000 crore to 2 crore building and other construction workers so far.

    Also, over Rs.1400 crore has been transferred in the accounts of around three crore divyangs, senior citizens and aged widows in the country.




  • TRIFED to supply masks made by tribal artisans
    Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED) under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is to work along with the Tribal artisans, Self Help Groups (SHGs), Van Dhan Beneficiaries and NGOs.

    The move by TRIFED is to offer marketing support of their handloom, handicraft and natural products.

    Highlights:
    These suppliers are currently making masks to support the community against the COVID-19 pandemic.
    These suppliers aim to establish a model for creating livelihoods with safety for them.

    TRIFED focuses to identify additional suppliers who can contribute by supplying masks in the crisis.
    To manufacture a mask for protection against coronavirus, the Government of India has issued guidelines and standards to manufacture masks. Several private companies are also making masks along with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators.




  • Dharmendra Pradhan participated in the G20 Extraordinary Energy Ministers' virtual Meeting
    Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel, participated in the G20 Extraordinary Energy Ministers' virtual Meeting on 10 April 2020. The meeting was hosted by Saudi Arabia, it is the President of G20 countries.

    Participants:
    The meeting was chaired by Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz. The meeting was attended by Energy Ministers of G20 countries, guest countries and heads of international organizations including Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Energy Forum (IEF).

    Meeting Highlights:
    The G20 Energy Ministers' focused on ways and means to ensure stable energy markets, which are affected due to demand reduction in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing surplus production-related matters.

    Dharmendra Pradhan highlighted PM's Ujjwala scheme, to provide 80.3 million poor families free LPG cylinders, as part of a 23 billion dollars relief package. He also highlighted the Government of India’s efforts to fill in our Strategic Petroleum Reserves.

    The G20 Energy Ministers' meeting is to adopt a Joint Statement, which inter alia, proposes to establish a Task Force to advise the G20 Energy Ministers on the next steps, and agreed to remain engaged in the future.




  • National Safe Motherhood Day observed 11 April
    National Safe Motherhood Day observed on 11th April every year to raise awareness about the proper healthcare of women and maternity facilities to pregnant and lactating women.

    The day also aims to spread awareness about healthcare facilities for women. India became the first country to officially declare a National Safe Motherhood Day in the world.

    History:
    National Safe Motherhood Day (NSMD) initiative was started by the White Ribbon Alliance India (WRAI). The day was designated to provide women with various healthcare programs during pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal services. The first NSMD was observed in 2003. The day also coincides with the birth anniversary day of Kasturba Gandhi.




  • National Pet Day is celebrated on 11 April
    National Pet Day is celebrated on 11th April every year. The day encourages people to help reduce the number of animals in shelters. On this day, the pet owners celebrate their animal companion.

    A survey by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) determined that the animals contribute to the physical and mental benefits to overall cardiovascular health by lowering cortisol, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels.

    History:
    Colleen Paige founded National Pet Day was established in 2006 with an aim to celebrate the joy pets can bring to the people. Paige is an animal welfare advocate and pet and family lifestyle expert. She wanted to bring attention to the ongoing needs of many pets of all kinds waiting in shelters to be adopted. She encouraged people who want purebred dogs and cats to contact rescue organizations instead of going to a breeder.




  • Odia New Year is celebrated on 13th April.
    MahaBishuba Pana Sankranti is celebrated as the Odia New Year on 13 April every year. The day is named after "Pana", a drink offering. The day is celebrated with great joy, social, cultural and religious performances.

    Pana Sankranti:
    The reason the day is observed is that it is the first day of the solar year. Only on this day, the Sun fully rests on the equator on two occasions namely 'MeshaSankranti' and 'Tula Sankranti'. After MeshaSankranti, the Sun moves in the northern direction to the side where India is situated to the north of the equator. Hence from this day of the first movement of the Sun from MeshaSankranti that the New Year is counted.

    As per the tradition of Odia, the PanaSankranti is believed to be the birthday of the Hindu deity Hanuman. His loving devotion to Vishnu avatar Rama in Ramayana is legendary. His temples, along with those of Shiva and Surya (the sun god) are revered in the new year. Hindus also visit Devi temples on PanaSankranti.

    Celebrations:
    On this day, people use a small pot filled with "pana" or a sweet drink of Mishri and water is hung on a basil (Tulsi) plant. A hole is made at the bottom of the pot which allows the water to fall from the pot, representing rain.

    The festival is observed widely in the coastal areas, in some towns and villages of other areas as a rigorous ritualistic observance in Odisha.

    Other festivals are otherwise known as JharnuYatra, HingulaYatra or PatuaYatra, DandaYatra, UdaYatra culminate in the BishubaSankranti.




  • April 13, 2020 marked the 101st anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
    13 April 2020 marked the 101st anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. On this day, the martyrs who were killed mercilessly in Jallianwala Bagh are remembered.
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to the innocent martyrs who showed great courage and sacrifice.

    Jallianwala Bagh massacre:
    The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, or the Amritsar slaughter, happened on 13 April 1919. On this day, the British Indian Army troops under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of Indians in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab.

    The civilians had assembled for a peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal, Saifuddin Kitchlew and the Rowlatt Act. General Dyer took a strike force of 50 rifles and 40 khukri-wielding Gurkhas into the enclosed ground, Jallianwala Bagh. Without warning, he ordered open fire on the crowd that resulted in the death of several hundreds of people, and many were wounded.




  • AIM, NITI Aayog, NIC launched CollabCAD in ATL schools
    Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), policy think tank NITI Aayog and National Informatics Centre (NIC) jointly launched CollabCAD, a collaborative network, on 13 April.
    The computer-enabled software system provided a total engineering solution from 2D drafting &detailing to 3D product design.

    Aim:
    The aim of the initiative is to provide a great platform to students of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) across the country. It also plans to create and modify 3D designs with a free flow of creativity and imagination. The software is focused to enable students to create data across the network and concurrently access the same design data for storage and visualization.

    CollabCAD:
    CollabCAD will provide tinkering spaces to children to sharpen the innovative ideas and creativity.
    CollabCAD is a platform for students to utilize indigenous, state-of-the-art made-in-India software for 3D modeling/slicing to use 3D Printing.

    It is a customized version of CollabCAD for ATLs with features that are most relevant to school students to materialize their ideas and creativity into physical solutions. It will enable design without constraints and, thus, allowing creativity and innovation to thrive.

    CollabCAD online will make 3D printing an integral part of the new 21st century innovations. It will enable designing through CollabCAD in 5000 Atal Tinkering Labs with over 2.5 million students having access to it.




  • MHRD launched YUKTI web-portal in New Delhi.
    Centre launched a web-portal "Young India Combating COVID with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation" (YUKTI) in New Delhi.
    The web-portal was launched by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal"Nishank."

    YUKTI portal :
    YUKTI portal is a unique portal and dashboard to monitor and record the efforts and initiatives of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). The portal aims to cover the different dimensions of COVID-19 challenges in a very holistic and comprehensive way.

    The primary aim is to keep the Indian academic community healthy, both physically & mentally. It also aims to enable a continuous high-quality learning environment for learners. The portal is an effort of MHRD to achieve the goal in these difficult times.

    The portal will cover various initiatives and efforts of the institutions in academics, research especially related to COVID-19, social initiatives by institutions and the measures taken for the betterment of the total well-being of the students.

    The portal will cover both qualitative and quantitative parameters for the effective delivery of services to the academic community at large.

    Through this portal, several institutions can share their strategies for various challenges to tackle COVID-19 and other future initiatives.

    The portal will give inputs for better planning and will enable MHRD to monitor effectively its activities for the coming six months.

    The portal focuses on establishing a two-way communication channel between the MHRD and the institutions in the country. Through this, the Ministry aims to provide the necessary support system to the institutions.




  • BRO opened Srinagar-Leh highway to allow essential commodities
    Border Roads Organisation (BRO) opened the strategic Srinagar-Leh highway on 11 April. The highway connects Ladakh with the rest of the world. Earlier, few oil tankers and other essential commodities were allowed to move towards Leh/Ladakh from Zojila pass.




  • Ambedkar Jayanti is celebrated on 14 April
    The birth anniversary of Dr.B R Ambedkar is celebrated on 14 April. The day is celebrated to honour his countless contributions in the making of independent India. Ambedkar Jayanti is also known as Bhim Jayanti.

    India, amid the lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, celebrated the birth anniversary of Dr.BR Ambedkar, digitally, to mark their respect.

    Dr.B R Ambedkar:
    Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh. He is the Father of the Indian Constitution. He led a crusade for the upliftment and empowerment of Dalits in India. He held doctorates in economics from premier institutes like Columbia University and the London School of Economics. He was a scholar in various disciplines including economics, law and political science.

    Ambedkar became a key advocate and campaigner for the independence of India from British rule. He fought for Dalits rights.



  • Centre sets up 20 control rooms to address wage-related grievances of workers
    Ministry of Labour and Employment has set up 20 control rooms under the Office of Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) across India.
    The aim of the control room is to sort out the issues that are arising in the backdrop of COVID-19.

    Highlights:
    The control rooms will address wage-related grievances of workers employed in Central Sphere.

    It will also mitigate the problems of migrant workers through coordination with various state governments.

    The call centers set up by GoI can be accessed by the workers through Phone numbers, Whatsapp and Emails.

    These control rooms are being managed by Labour Enforcement Officers, Assistant Labour commissioners, Regional Labour Commissioners, and Deputy Chief Labour Commissioners of the respective regions.

    The functioning of all the call centers will be monitored and supervised by CLC-C of Head Quarter on a daily basis.

    The concerned officers and officials of the control rooms have been directed to adopt a humane approach to assist the aggrieved workmen to the maximum possible extent. The centers will ensure the delivery of timely relief to the needy ones.

    The centers have been set up in Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Asansol, Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Dehradun, Delhi, Dhanbad, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jabalpur, Kanpur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna, and Raipur.




  • Science-based website CovidGyan on COVID-19 was launched
    CovidGyan, a Science-based website, was launched. The website aims to bring the scientific and factual aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak onto the public domain, multi-institutional, multi-lingual science communication.

    Website partners:
    The website was launched by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and Tata Memorial Centre (TMC).

    Many other partners including VigyanPrasar, IndiaBioscience, and the Bangalore Life Science Cluster (BLiSc), which includes Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (InStem), Centre for Cellular And Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) have also joined the initiative.

    CovidGyan:
    CovidGyan serves as a hub to bring together a collection of resources in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
    These resources are generated by research institutions in India and several associated programs. The content presented on the website provides a scientific understanding of the disease and its transmission.
    The information provided is authentic.

    The main objective of the website is to create public awareness and bring in a holistic approach to the understanding of COVID=19 disease and potential means to mitigate it.

    It will aid as a 'go-to' repository of information regarding COVID-19. The website was designed with multi-faceted aspects to provide 'right information' through talks from eminent scientists in audio or podcast formats, infographics, posters, videos, FAQs and Mythbusters, and even links to scientific papers.

    The website of CovidGyan is https://covid-gyan.in.




  • e-NAM completes four years of implementation
    The National Agriculture Market portal, e-NAM completed four years of implementation on 14 April 2020. The portal aims to achieve the vision of the "One Nation, One Market" for Agri-produce.

    Achievements:
    e-NAM has been expanded to cover an additional 415 mandis which will take the total number of e-NAM mandis to 1000 soon.
    The online platform aims to reform the agriculture market in India.

    Over 1.66 crore farmers and 1.28 Lakh traders registered on the e-NAM platform. By registering, the farmers can upload their produce for sale online to the traders across all e-NAM mandis. Traders can then bid for the lots available for sale on e-NAM from any location.

    With this interface, the traders have accessed more than 7.76 lakh trucks through e-NAM Platform.

    e-NAM:
    e-NAM was launched on 14 April 2016. eNAM is an online trading portal for agricultural products in India. It functions under the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, GoI. The Union Minister responsible is Narendra Singh Tomar. The platform facilitates the smooth marketing of their produce.

    e-NAM was an innovative initiative in agricultural marketing to enhance farmers' accessibility digitally to the multiple numbers of markets and buyers. It aims to bring transparency in trade transactions with the intent to improve price discovery mechanism, quality commensurate price realization and also to develop the concept of One Nation One Market for agriculture produce.




  • First remote health monitoring system has been set up in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
    First remote health monitoring systemhas been set up in India by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rishikesh along with Bharat Heavy Electronics Limited (BHEL), a Government of India Navratna company in the defense sector.
    The system is expected to be used in Uttarakhand state to monitor COVID-19 patients.

    First remote health monitoring system:
    The digital medical system has been developed so that the doctor sitting in AIIMS can monitor the patient's body temperature and the amount of oxygen in the blood and the speed of his breath while at home.
    The therapeutic system will not unnecessarily hospitalize the patient. For this purpose, a website and mobile application have been created.

    Using the system, the vital parameters of the patient will be displayed in the AIIMS command & control center.
    The patients can inform the doctors about their illness and the doctors will give proper counseling after seeing the symptoms stated by the patient.

    If the patient is suspicious of the corona infection, then he will be provided with a monitoring kit from the institute. The patient can sit at his home and consult the doctor.
    The kit will issue alert if the patient needs to be admitted to the hospital.
    The system will also show in which parts of the state the disease is spreading in a serious way.




  • ICMR approves Remdesivir drug against Coronavirus
    The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) announced that the antiviral drug Remdesivir can be used against COVID-19.
    ICMR stated that Research on the efficacy in the treatment of COVID-19 is a part of the "Solidarity Trial" of the World Health Organization (WHO).

    Remdesivir:
    Remdesivir drug is used to during the Ebola outbreak.
    The drug can be used as it is highly effective in stopping the replication mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. The drug may be highly effective in stopping the replication mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.

    A study stated that 2 ill coronavirus infected patients who were on oxygen support or on ventilators showed signs of improvement when they were administered remdesivir.
    The drug hinders the reproduction of coronavirus which is why they believe that it could be effective in COVID-19 treatment.
    Remdesivi is not presently available in India and the government is working on to see if any pharmaceutical company can manufacture it.




  • GoI launched All India Agri Transport Call Centre
    Government of India launched the All India Agri Transport Call Centre at a function in New Delhi on 15 April. The center was launched by Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar.

    All India Agri Transport Call Centre:
    The initiative was introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), GoI.
    The Call center aims to facilitate the inter-state movement of perishables including Vegetables & Fruits, Agri Inputs like seeds, pesticides, and fertilizer, etc, in the current situation of lockdown due to the COVID-19 threat.

    The Call Centre numbers are 18001804200 and 14488.
    These numbers can be called from any mobile or landline phone at any time.
    Truck drivers and helpers, transporters farmers, traders, retailers, manufacturers or any other stakeholder who faces problems can call the center.

    Call Center Executives will forward the vehicle and consignment details along with the help needed, to State Government officials for resolution of issues.
    The Call Centre Executives will also maintain records and verify the disposal of the problem as the case may be.
    The center is manned by 10 customer executives round the clock in 3 shifts of 8 hours each.




  • Ministry of Tourism launched Dekho Apna Desh webinar series
    The Ministry of Tourism has launched its "Dekho Apna Desh" webinar series to provide information on the many destinations and details and expanse of the culture and heritage of our Incredible India.

    The move comes as tourism is hugely impacted with no movement happening either domestically or from across the border due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Dekho Apna Desh webinar:
    The first webinar of Dekho Apna Desh shall unfold and touch upon the long history of Delhi. The webinar was titled 'City of Cities- Delhi's Personal Diary'. It unfolded Delhi as 8 cities, each one unique in its character and leaving behind traces which makes Delhi, today's magnificent city.

    The webinars will be an on-going feature of the Tourism Ministry.

    The Ministry will showcase the diverse and remarkable history and culture of India including its natural landscapes, monuments, cuisine, arts, dance forms, festivals and many other aspects of the rich Indian civilization.

    It also holds a session that raises awareness about tourism and social history.

    The series will be available on the Ministry's social media handles 'IncredibleIndia' on Instagram and Facebook.

    The next webinar will be telecasted on 16 April from 11 am to 12 noon and shall take visitors to the amazing City of Kolkata.




  • Fit India launched Fit India Active Day program for school students
    Fit India, the Government of India’s flagship fitness movement, has launched the Fit India Active Day program. The new series of fitness sessions will be organized in partnership with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for school children from across the country.

    Fit India Active Day program:
    During the program, the guidelines of the Ministry of AYUSH to stay healthy will be shared with students.

    The fitness experts will ensure that children practice fitness even when at home.
    It also aims to ensure that everyone, especially children remain healthy and has strong immunity.

    The guidelines of the Ministry of AYUSH with regard to following simple steps to increase immunity will also be discussed.
    Live sessions of the program will commence from 15 April 2020 at 9:30 am. The students can get access to these live sessions on Facebook and Instagram handles of Fit India Movement and CBSE.




  • UP became the first state to start Pool Testing of coronavirus
    Uttar Pradesh became the first state to start the Pool Testing of the coronavirus samples as the number of COVID-19 positive patients reached 558. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) gave permission for pool testing to the state in order to help maximize the testing of samples on a daily basis.

    Pool testing is expected to boost the daily testing capacity of the state health department.

    Pool Testing:
    In Pool Testing, if 10 samples are mixed and tested for COVID-19 and if they test negative, then it will be an indicator that all samples are negative. But if the test is not negative, then individual testing will be done.

    This will increase the testing capacity and accelerate the process.
    The health department of UP tested around 2000 samples per day in the state.

    The state has also commenced the telephonic consultation facility in UP under which the people can call on toll-free number 18001805145 and can consult with the doctors who have retired from the army and the government.




  • GoI assures SC that the WHO norms on Health workers safety is followed
    On 15 April, the Government of India assured the Supreme Court that World Health Organizations (WHO) guidelines for the safety of health workers is being followed in all cases including doctors, nurses, other health staff and sanitation workers

    Highlights:
    As per the WHO guidelines, the doctors, nurses and health workers must be equipped with PPEs, and their concerns should be addressed. GoI assured that the rule is followed.

    The government is to set up a separate helpline for nurses to address their complaints in two hours.

    In India, the petition on behalf of the nurses was filed by the United Nurses Association. It seeks a national corona management protocol.

    A dedicated helpline will also be provided to nurses to redress all their complaints and issues related to PPEs, salary cut, eviction by homeowners, etc.

    The government also ensures the right to life of sanitation workers or 'safaikaramcharis'.




  • Health Ministry Colour code districts to help manage COVID-19 pandemic
    The Government of India decided to divide all districts across the country into hotspots, non-hotspots and green zones. The announcement was made by Lav Agarwal, joint secretary of the Health Ministry.

    Highlights:
    The aim is to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also help the partial opening up of economic activities during the extended period of the nationwide lockdown.

    The move also aims to help in the management of hotspots and the spread of the pandemic. The health and family welfare ministry has launched a new set of guidelines for the second phase of lockdown till 3 May.

    As of 15 April, the Ministry has identified 170 hotspot districts, 207 non-hotspot districts reporting cases and 359 green zone districts not reporting any cases across the country.

    These numbers will increase or decrease based on fresh cases of COVID-19 infection.

    The new guidelines by the Ministry are aimed to help the central and state governments to allow some economic activities in select areas.

    The economic activities in the green zone districts will be allowed but restricted in the red zones, which will continue to have the current lockdown measures.




  • ICAR developed Pusa Decontamination and Sanitizing Tunnel
    Pusa Decontamination and Sanitizing Tunnel are developed by the Division of Agricultural Engineering, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR), New Delhi.
    The tunnel was inaugurated by the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Kailash Choudhary on 16 April in New Delhi.

    Pusa Decontamination and Sanitizing Tunnel:
    The sanitization protocol of the tunnel included handwashing with foot-operated soap and water dispenser and fogging in a sanitizing tunnel for 20 seconds.

    In the tunnel, Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QAC) are used at a concentration of 0.045%, as per the recommendation of the Health Department.

    QAC are cationic detergents and disinfectants. It can be used to remove organic material. It will denature the proteins of the fungal or bacterial cell and affects the metabolic reactions of the cell and causes vital substances to leak out of the cell which will lead to the death of the virus.



  • AIIB to lend USD 500 million to India to help fight COVID-19 pandemic
    Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has announced that it is to finance $500 million projects in India to help the country improve its health care systems. With this, AIIB has doubled its funds under the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility.

    Highlights:
    The aim of the move is to help reduce health care pressures in pandemic preparedness and health infrastructure in India. It will also provide liquidity, fiscal and budgetary support.

    The funding is to be used for the purchase of equipment and for detection capacity.
    The move comes as India approaches AIIB for financial assistance to combat COVID-19.




  • Chhattisgarh launched Cghaat website for online essential delivery
    Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel inaugurated the online delivery website 'Cghaat' on 16 April. Cghaat will facilitate doorstep delivery of fruits and vegetables during the extended lockdown phase due to contain COVID-19 spread.

    Cghaat:
    The web portal, cghaat.in, has been developed by Chhattisgarh government's agency Chips.

    The fruit and vegetable vendors who are interested to provide services can register online through this portal.

    After registering, they can provide home delivery against online orders placed as soon as they receive Collector's permission.

    Cghaat service is available free of charge to vendors.

    Customers interested in purchasing from the portal can also register free of charge and choose the vendor of their choice.

    Other essential items such as milk, groceries, forest-produce, etc is set to be delivered soon through the portal.

    The portal will come in handy for people who practice physical distancing and will also minimize the chances of crowding at the shops.




  • CCMB to develop Inactivated virus vaccine for novel coronavirus
    Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) is currently developing an inactivated virus vaccine for COVID-19. These inactivated vaccines are known for their safety and easy production.

    What is an inactivated virus vaccine?
    Generally, the active virus is cultured in large numbers. They are then killed either by a chemical or heat. Although the pathogen is killed or made to lose its reproduction capacity, various parts of the virus, like the spike protein with which it enters the cells, remains intact.

    The antigen or the chemical structure that is recognized by the immune system will be left unimpaired. When this dead microbe is introduced, the immune system is tricked to respond by producing antibodies against specific antigens still left intact, without knowing that the pathogen is dud. Inactivated polio vaccine and the rabies vaccine are made this way.

    The pathogen cannot reproduce as they are dead and it can't cause even a mild disease. Hence, it will be safe to administer to even people with lesser immunity, like the old and those who have comorbidity.

    If a large amount of virus is grown and made inactive, it will become a material for the candidate vaccine to be injected. Now the virus will not be active but the human body will recognize the proteins of the virus and start making antibodies against it. So, it acts as the inactivated virus vaccine.




  • Shri Sanjay Dhotre launched Hack the Crisis India overcome COVID 19 pandemic
    Minister of State Electronics & Information Technology, Communications and Human Resource Development Shri Sanjay Dhotre launched Hack the Crisis – India, an Online Hackathon to find working solutions for overcoming COVID 19 pandemic.

    This hackathon is part of a global initiative. It is organized by Hack A Cause – India and Ficci Ladies Organization Pune and supported by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India (MEITY).

    Aim of this hackathon:
    To fight against COVID19. The winning ideas from a few top participating teams, as implementable solutions on the corona crisis, is expected to help India and global citizens.

    Minister of State Electronics & Information Technology stated that we should, and we will overcome this challenge and come out stronger as a country and thereby also support humanity at large to prevail.

    Hack the Crisis – India, an Online Hackathon to find working solutions for overcoming COVID 19 pandemic. This hackathon is part of a global initiative organized by ‘Hack A Cause – India’ and ‘Ficci Ladies Organization Pune’ and supported by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India (MEITY).

    Around 2000 teams and over 15000 participants will be enhancing their working prototypes in a 48hour hackathon with expert mentoring from India, Estonia, and Finland. Top teams from India will participate in 'Hack the Crisis - World’ global hackathon in the coming weeks.




  • Union HRD Minister launches MHRD AICTE COVID-19 Student Helpline Portal
    Students are facing difficulties due to the closure of colleges and hostels due to the COVID 19 Pandemic.

    AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) has come out with MHRD AICTE COVID-19 Student Helpline Portal to address the issues.

    Aim of the portal:
    The portal is mostly available to connect who are willing to provide help with those who need help.

    The nature of support includes Accommodation, Food, on line Classes, Attendance, Examinations, Scholarships, Health, Transport, Harassment. Around 6500 colleges have already come forward to provide support at such a crucial juncture.

    Students in difficulty are encouraged to get connected with them through this portal directly. AICTE also appealed to voluntary organizations, NGOs. Social organizations, philanthropists to come forward and render their support similar to the 6500 colleges.




  • IAS IPS officers associations form Caruna an initiative to fight Coronavirus
    Associations representing officers of Central Civil Services, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS), formed an initiative called Caruna to support and supplement the government's efforts in fighting coronavirus.

    Caruna:
    'Caruna' stands for Civil Services Associations Reach to Support in Natural Disasters and represents a collaborative platform on which civil servants, industry leaders, NGO professionals, and IT professionals, among others, have come together to contribute their time and abilities.




  • ArogyaSanjeevani Policy Cigna launched with IRDAI guidelines
    Manipal Cigna Health Insurance Company has announced the launch of its ArogyaSanjeevani Policy, Manipal Cigna. This standard health cover policy in line with IRDAI from one of the 29 insurers who have received the go-ahead to launch such policies in the industry.

    Every general insurance company has to launch a standard health plan and has to have an official name ArogyaSanjeevani Policy (name of insurer) for easy comparison by the buyers.

    ArogyaSanjeevani Policy:
    The product provides a family discount of 15% for covering two and more family members under the single individual policy to make it more affordable for families. It covers necessary hospitalization expenses incurred at any medical facility registered with ManipalCigna’s network in India and even in non-network hospitals.

    It includes the expenses incurred towards – dental treatment or plastic surgery necessitated due to disease or injury. The policyholder will be provided a grace period of up to 30 days, for a yearly mode of payment. The insured shall be allowed fifteen days from the date of receipt of the policy.




  • NHA signs pact with Uber for transportation service for public healthcare workers
    National Health Authority (NHA) inked a pact with ride-hailing app Uber to provide transport services for frontline healthcare workers involved in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

    Highlights:
    Uber planned to facilitate the provision of 150 cars free of cost to support medical facilities in certain cities, namely New Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Prayagraj, and Patna through its UberMedic service.

    The NHA will be equipped with roof-to-floor plastic sheeting enclosing the driver’s seat, thereby acting as a protective barrier between the rider and driver.

    Every UberMedic car will be disinfected after every ride to ensure adequate safety and hygiene.

    The limited mobility options had made it difficult for frontline workers to travel to their workplaces, which is the hospital. This initiative will further strengthen India’s response to contain the spread of COVID-19. This ride-hailing app has been taking steps towards battling the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.




  • India seeks $6 billion of loans from ADB, AIIB to fight coronavirus pandemic
    India is seeking as much as $6 billion of loans from multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Bank to bolster its efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

    World Bank
    The World Bank already committed $1 billion. At the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is in talks with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and ADB, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details haven’t been finalized.




  • Lupin launched drug used for prevention of organ rejection in kidney transplant in the US
    Drug firm Lupin launched generic Mycophenolic acid delayed-release tablets in the US market.
    The drug is used to prevent organ rejection in patients receiving kidney transplants.

    Drug:
    The tablets Mycophenolic acid delayed-release tablets are of strengths 180 mg and 360 mg.
    The drug is the generic version of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation's Myfortic delayed-release tablets.

    Lupin's alliance partner Concord Biotech Ltd has received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) earlier for the product.
    The tablets are indicated for prophylaxis of organ rejection in adult patients receiving kidney transplants and in pediatric patients at least 5 years of age and older who are at least 6 months post kidney transplant.




  • National Maritime Day is celebrated on 5th April in India
    National Maritime Day is celebrated on 5th April in India. The day creates awareness to support intercontinental commerce and the global economy as the most well-organized, safe and sound, environmentally responsive approach of transporting goods from one place to another of the world.

    Theme:
    The theme for the 57th National Maritime Day is "Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet." The theme aims to raise awareness of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
    The theme also showcase the work that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and its Member States are taking various measures to achieve the targets.

    History:
    National Maritime Day is being observed since 1964. On 5 April 1919, navigation history was created in India, when SS Loyalty, the first ship of The Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd travelled to the United Kingdom from Mumbai.

    The move was very important to Indian shipping history when sea routes were controlled by the British. The transaction marked a red-letter day in the maritime history of India. This day is celebrated to spread awareness in supporting intercontinental commerce and the global economy.




  • Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated on 6th April
    Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated on 6th April every year. It is one of the most auspicious festivals in the Jain community.
    Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated on the 13th day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Chaitra.

    Mahavir Jayanti:
    Mahavir Jayanti is also known as Mahaveer Janma Kalyanak or the Birth Anniversary of Lord Mahavira. Jainism was founded by Mahavir Jayanti. The festival is celebrated widely by the Jain community in memory of the last spiritual teacher of the religion.

    A procession with the idol of Lord Mahavira called the RathYatra is held on a special day. On this day, the Jains recites stavans (Jain prayers) and give a ceremonial bath called "abhisheka" to the statues of the Lord Mahavira.




  • C-MET develops a low-cost indigenous prototype of polymer swab
    A scientist from the Pune-based Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology (C-MET) has developed a low-cost indigenous prototype of polymer swab.
    It can be used to collect the samples for coronavirus testing. If the product gets approved for production, the country will not need to depend on imported swabs.

    Polymer swabs:
    India has been importing testing kits and polymer swabs primarily from Italy, Germany and the United States. Because of the import restrictions and international lockdown, a shortage of these kits might occur.

    The swad satisfies the guidelines of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP).
    The polymer swab is used to collect a sample from the upper respiratory tract of a patient.

    A specialty polymer from the polyester family and a rod made up of Polypropylene has been used to develop the prototype of the swab.
    The Prototype will be forwarded for clinical trial and testing.




  • Commerce Ministry launched online platform to issue of certificate of origin for exporters
    The Ministry of Commerce has designed an online platform for the issuance of a key document required for exports to those countries with which India has trade agreements.
    The move aims to facilitate shipments during the COVID-19 crisis.

    Highlights:
    As per the guidelines of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), an exporter should submit a certificate of origin (COO) at the landing port of the importing country. The certificate is essential to prove where their goods come from.

    The submitted documents will be important to claim duty concessions under free-trade agreements (FTAs).

    The platform has been designed as single-point access for all FTAs/preferential trade agreement (PTA), for all designated COO issuing agencies and for all export products

    The platform can be accessed at https://coo.dgft.gov.in.

    The preferential certificate of origin for exports to various other countries under following FTAs/PTAs shall be applied and issued only from the online platform with effect from 7 April 2020.

    Previously, the certificate for exports from India to Chile under a PTA, exports to Nepal under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) and shipments to Korea under India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement have been applied and issued through this online platform.




  • NHAI achieved highest ever Construction of National Highways in 2019-20 Financial year
    National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has accomplished the construction of 3,979 km of national highways in the financial Year 2019-20. It is the highest ever highway construction achieved in a financial year by NHAI.

    Bharatmala Pariyojana:
    The ambitious highway development program of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways includes the development of about 65,000 km of national highways.

    Under Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana, the Ministry has approved the implementation of 34,800km of national highways in 5 years with an outlay of Rs.5,35,000 crore.
    NHAI has been mandated to develop about 27,500km of national highways under Bharatmal Pariyojna Phase-I.

    Also, a large number of initiatives have been taken to revive the stalled projects and expedite completion of new projects including :

    ? Streamlining of land acquisition and acquisition of a major portion of land prior to the invitation of bids.
    ? Cases to be disposed of the Change of Scope (CoS) and Extension of Time (EoT) in a time-bound manner
    ? Procedure for approval of General Arrangement Drawing for ROBs simplified and made online.
    ? Close coordination with other Ministries and State Governments
    ? One time fund infusion
    ? Regular review at various levels and identification/ removal of bottlenecks in project execution
    ? Proposed exit for Equity Investors
    ? Securitization of road sector loans
    ? Disputes Resolution mechanism revamped to avoid delays in the completion of projects.




  • Indian Railways has converted 2500 coaches into Isolation Units
    Indian Railways is to make more designs of the isolation coaches as a measure to combat COVID-19.
    Indian Railways has successfully converted 2500 coaches as Isolation Units with limited manpower amid the lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak. The move by the Railways is to supplement the national efforts in combating COVID-19.

    The initial task was to prepare 5000 coaches as isolation wards for the COVID-19 infected patients.
    With the conversion of around 2500 coaches, 40000 isolation beds are now ready for contingency. On average, 375 coaches per day are being converted by Indian Railways. The conversion is being carried out at 133 locations in the country.

    Isolation Units:
    The isolation coaches will be used all across the country and will remain on railway premises.

    These coaches are equipped as per medical advisories issued.

    For the isolation cabin, middle berth from one side and all the three berths have been removed in front of the patient berth.

    Air curtains in each compartment have been provided.

    Each compartment is provided with four bottle holders and a 220-volt electric point for medical instruments.

    The aisle areas of the bathrooms have been modified to prepare the isolation coaches. A hand shower, one bucket, and a mug are placed in each bathroom.

    With these provisions, there are 10 isolation wards in each coach.

    Indian Railways is to make more designs of the isolation coaches as a measure to combat COVID-19.

    The isolation coaches are being prepared only as a contingency and to supplement the efforts of the Ministry of Health in fighting the COVID 19.



  • Cabinet approved Non-operation of MPLADS for two years
    The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved Non-operation of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for two years from 2020-21 to 2021-22.

    The move is to provide support in managing the COVID-19 outbreak. The move is a part of the Government's continued efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
    The funds from the scheme will be used to strengthen the Government's efforts in managing the challenges and adverse impact of COVID19 in the country.

    MPLADS:
    The scheme was launched on 23 December 1993. It was administered by the Ministry of Rural Development.

    The scheme enables the Members of Parliaments (MP) to recommend developmental work in their constituencies to create durable community assets based on locally felt needs.




  • DST sets up CAWACH to combat COVID-19 pandemic
    Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India has set up a Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH).

    The centre is a rapid response to combat COVID-19 global pandemic.

    Aim:
    The CAWACH program focus to leverage the youthful energy, intelligence and extraordinary innovative potential of technology incubators and startups.

    It also aims to empower them to speedily address the multi-dimensional challenges of COVID-19 across respiratory aids, information and monitoring assists, disinfection systems, protective gear and coatings, diagnostics, and a plethora of other relevant materials, devices, and solutions

    CAWACH:
    The total cost of the centre is Rs.56 crore.

    The centre is to evaluate and support the innovations and start-ups that address COVID-19 challenges.

    The centre will be implemented by Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), a technology business incubator at IIT-Bombay.

    Through the program, DST aims to support R&D initiatives by boosting innovations offering comprehensive solutions like Ventilators, Diagnostics, Therapeutics, Informatics and other intervention for control and mitigation of COVID-19.

    The centre will support startups at different stages for fast-tracking commercialization process and journey and scale-up across geographies which will have a significant impact in the long term.

    It will provide access for all India networks for testing, trial and market deployment of these products and solutions in the identified areas of priority COVID-19 solutions.

    The program will help to address various challenges faced by the country due to the Coronavirus crisis.




  • Andhra Pradesh state to procure 3 lakh rapid testing kits
    Andhra Pradesh state government has placed an order for 3 lakh rapid testing kits for COVID-19.

    AP's measures:
    The AP state government has identified and designated 13 hospitals in 13 districts as COVID hospitals.

    It has a dedicated hospital where no other patients will be treated. The move is to avoid further transmission, said the government of the disease.

    The AP government authorities are to undertake extensive testing in containment zones that are established across the state where positive COVID-19 cases have been reported.

    After the delivery of the ordered equipment, the AP state is to undertake the exercise of randomly testing 8,000 samples from across the state to better understand the extent of the spread.

    The state govt. used the equipment that is used for testing of Tuberculosis on 5 positive cases and 5 negative cases. The results were accurate and hence the government has decided on a two-step testing process from hereon in some cases.



  • Centre extended 7th Economic Census data collection period by 6 months
    The Government of India has announced the extension of the data collection period for the Seventh Economic Census by 6 months, that is, till 30 September 2020. The announcement was made by the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

    The survey engaged around 1 million people in fieldwork. The data is collected through the door to door survey of each household and commercial establishment. It is done under the provisions of the Collection of Statistics Act 2008.

    Background:
    The economic census is conducted in 2020 after a gap of five years. For the survey data collection, MoSPI has partnered with CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd.
    Earlier, the MoSPI had put on hold several economic surveys including the measurement of domestic tourism, unemployment, and a multiple indicator survey, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The 7th Economic Census survey is being carried out since 29 June 2019. But the speed of data collection was slow.




  • Essential services, medicines delivered at doorstep of patients by SwasthkeSipahi under PMBJP
    Swasthke Sipahi pharmacists of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendra (PMJAK) are delivering essential services and medicines at the doorstep of patients and elderly under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) during the nationwide lockdown.

    SwasthkeSipahi:
    The pharmacist is working as part of PMJAK. Currently, they are extending essential services by making available quality generic medicines at affordable prices to the common people of the country and the elderly persons at their doorstep to fight the Corona pandemic.

    SwasthkeSipahi is supporting the government's initiative of practicing social distancing.

    PMJAK:
    PMJAKs are being run by the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India.

    The main objective of PMJAK is to provide quality and affordable healthcare to anyone in need. Currently, more than 6300 PMJAKs are functioning across the nation, covering 726 districts of the country.




  • IIL partners with Griffith University of Australia to develop vaccine for coronavirus
    Vaccine manufacturer Indian Immunologicals (IIL) partnered with Australia's Griffith University to do research and develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The two entities have signed a pact regarding this.

    Highlights:
    Under the partnership Scientists from India and Australia will develop a 'live attenuated SARS–CoV-2 vaccine' using the latest codon deoptimization technology.

    IIL stated that the technology looks promising for developing a vaccine for prophylactic, active, single-dose immunization against novel coronavirus in humans, with an enhanced safety profile.

    The vaccine is expected to provide long-lasting protection with a single dose administration with an anticipated safety profile similar to other licensed vaccines for active immunization.

    Upon the completion of the research, the vaccine strain will be transferred to ILL. It will work with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), to conduct clinical trials. IIL intends to use its Vero cell platform tech for mass production of the vaccine.

    IIL is promoted by the National Dairy Development Board. It is committed to addressing critical public health needs by engaging in this collaboration.




  • India relaxed ban on exports of paracetamol, hydroxychloroquine drugs
    The Government of India has relaxed a ban on exports of paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) that are used to treat COVID-19. The drugs are currently placed in the licensed category.

    The move came as the US President Donald Trump had threatened India with retaliation if India rejected the US's demand for the supply of hydroxychloroquine.

    Ban relaxation:
    Doctors and scientists are divided over the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine drug which is used to treat malaria and auto-immune diseases. It has been found that the drug hydroxychloroquine is the key to battle the infection.

    A panel led by drug pricing regulator Shubhra Singh was tasked with assessing the capability and the manufacturing capacity of domestic pharmaceutical companies.

    The decision was taken after verifying stock availability in the country.

    India is one of the biggest manufacturers of the drug across the world.

    The US along with 30 countries, including South Asian neighbours and key global partners in West Asia, had asked India to lift the ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine drugs.




  • MHRD launched Samadhan, a challenge to find quick solution to COVID-19 pandemic
    The Innovation Cell of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) in collaboration with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Forge and InnovatioCuris launched "SAMADHAN", a mega online challenge, to test the ability of students to innovate.

    Samadhan:
    Students can participate in the Samadhan challenge.

    The participating candidates are expected to search and develop new measures that can provide quick solutions to the Coronavirus epidemic and other such calamities. The solution can be made available to the government agencies, health services, hospitals, and other services

    Samadhan will be done to make citizens aware, to motivate them, to face any challenge, to prevent any crisis and to help people get a livelihood.

    Under the Samadhan challenge, the faculty and students can conduct new experiments and make new discoveries. The experiments should be provided with a strong base leading to a spirit of experimentation and discovery.

    Applications to participate in the competition will start on 7 April 2020. he last date for submission of application is 14 April 2020.

    The names of the contestants after shortlisting will be declared on 17 April 2020. The contestants are expected to submit their entries between 18-23 April 2020. The final list of Samadhan will be released on 24 April and the grand online jury will decide the winners of the challenge on 25 April 2020.




  • Cabinet approved ordinance to take 30 percent pay cut for one year
    The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to amend the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (MP) Act through an ordinance.

    As per the amendment, there will be a salary cut of all ministers, including Prime Minister, for a year by 30%. The information was passed by the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi.

    The move is to provide financial assistance to the COVID-19 crisis. President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-president Venkiah Naidu and governors will also take a salary cut of 30% for a year. The savings from the salaries will go to the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI).

    What is Consolidated Fund of India?
    CFI is the revenues collected by the Centre through direct taxes and indirect taxes, license fees, money received by the government in loan repayment, profits from public sector undertakings. CFI is used for all the expenses of the government. CFI of the Central government was established under Article 267 of the Indian Constitution and State Government was established under Article 266 of the Indian Constitution.

    Only with the approval of Parliament, money can be withdrawn from CFI. The fund is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India and the reports will be submitted to the Union legislatures. Rajiv Mehrishi is the current CAG of India.




  • TRIFED collaborates with UNICEF to launch a digital campaign for Tribal Gatherers safety
    Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) has partnered with United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to ensure the tribal gatherers carry on their work safely.

    The partnership aims to develop a digital communication strategy for promoting a digital campaign for Self Help Groups (SHGs) to highlight the importance of Social Distancing.

    Collaboration Provision:
    As per the partnership, UNICEF will provide the necessary support to be circulated to the SHG centers in the form of Digital Multimedia content; Webinars for Virtual training basic orientation on COVID response, key preventive behaviors; Social Media campaigns on social distancing, home quarantine; and Vanya Radio.

    TRIFED joined with the Art of Living Foundation #iStandWithHumanity Initiative with a Stand With Tribal Families component to provide much-needed food and ration for the survival of the tribal community.

    The webinar to promote the campaign will be held on 9 April 2020. The initiative aims to cover tribal regions across all the 27 States.

    So far, a total of 1205 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs) have been sanctioned in 27 States and 1 Union Territory (UT). It involves around 18,075 Van Dhan Self Help Groups.

    Also, 15,000 of the SHGs will be promoted as Van Dhan Social Distancing Awareness cum Livelihood Centers' through a digital training program. It will create awareness and share about Do's and Don'ts Advisories during COVID-19, provide suggestive practices for maintaining personal hygiene, adopt cashless practices, among others.




  • CSIR-CECRI partners with 3D Lycan for Face Shield
    CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI) at Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu, has developed a series of lab-made Personal protective equipment (PPEs) to fight COVID-19 pandemic.

    CSIR-CECRI partnered with 3D Lycan, Bangalore company to increase the mass production of Face Shield.

    Measures by CSIR-CECRI:
    The PPEs prepared by CSIR-CECRI include Hand sanitizer solutions, as per the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, Hand washes solutions using coconut oil and Sodium hypochlorite based disinfectant solutions.

    These solutions are packed in containers, printed for instructions to use and distributed to the needy organizations at free of cost.

    It benefits the nearby Municipal Corporation, Govt. Medical College Hospital, Govt. Hospital, other police stations, and few nationalized banks, among others.

    Digital training to make face masks:

    CSIR-CECRI is also offering digital training to make face masks by interested rural women to help and cater to the needs of the people. A 3D printed face shield with reusable options has been given to the Dispensary staff of CSIR-CECRI to protect them effectively from a sneeze, cough and aerosol communication of the patients. It also launched the preparation method for electrochemical synthesis of hypo-chlorite (Disinfectant) to MSMEs to increase the production rate.




  • Indian Railways uses Timetabled Parcel Trains to boost supply chain
    Indian Railways introduced "Timetabled Parcel Train services" for nationwide transportation of essential commodities and other goods. The move by the Railways is to boost the supply chain across the country amid the major lockdown.

    The unhindered services offered by Indian Railways is expected to boost the availability of vital goods required for ordinary citizens, industry, and agriculture.

    Time Tabled Parcel Trains:
    Time Tabled Parcel Trains are planned according to the demand of the customers. With this, the Indian Railways makes sure that all the parts of the country are connected.

    The trains connect vital corridors of the country namely Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

    Under this service, proper connectivity has been ensured to Guwahati in order to ensure supplies in the North-eastern region of the country.

    Over 90 routes and 109 trains for Parcel Special Trains were notified since the start of the lock-down. The train service connects all the important cities of India for the transportation of vital goods at a fast speed. These services might be scaled up.

    The Time Tabled Parcel Trains delivers Milk Specials, Milk products, and Food products as per the customers' demand.




  • Centre to deposit Rs 1,000 in women PMJDY accounts in two installments
    Ministry of Finance announced Rs.500 has been deposited in each Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) account held by women for the month of April and Rs.500 more will be given over the month of May in equal installments.

    A total of 38.08 crore accounts are benefitting under the PMJDY. Out of it, 20.60 crore accounts are held by women across India. As of 1 April 2020, the deposits in the PMJDY accounts stood at over Rs 1.19 lakh crore.

    The aim is to provide help and support to the people amid the lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY):
    PMJDY was launched on 28 August 2014. It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an aim to provide universal access to banking facilities to all households. The main objective of the scheme is to expand and provide affordable access to financial services like bank accounts, remittances, credit, insurance, and pensions.




  • SCTIMST design super absorbent material for safe management of infected respiratory secretions
    Scientists at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) have designed and developed the "Chitra Acrylosorb Secretion Solidification System," a highly efficient superabsorbent material for liquid respiratory and other body fluid solidification. It can also be used as disinfection for the safe management of infected respiratory secretions.

    What is the need?
    Generally, in the ICU, the secretions of the patients are sucked by a suction machine into bottles or canisters. It should be emptied when it gets full. It includes the decontamination process in a sluice room and discarded through the waste fluid disposal systems.

    Hence, well-equipped sluice rooms with disinfection facilities, which is an issue in less well-equipped hospitals or makeshift isolation wards during epidemics.

    Chitra Acrylosorb Secretion Solidification System:
    The newly designed superabsorbent material can be effective in the safe management of infected respiratory secretions. In the developed system, suction canisters, disposable spit bags have been designed with "AcryloSorb" technology. AcryloSorb can absorb liquids at least 20 times more than its dry weight and also contains a decontaminant for in situ disinfection.

    Containers filled with this material will immobilize the contaminated fluid by solidifying it in a gel-like form. It will avoid spillage and will also disinfect it. The canister containing the solidified waste canister can then be decomposed as all other biomedical waste by incineration.

    This technology reduces the risk for the hospital staff, the need for personnel for disinfecting and cleaning the bottles and canisters for reusing them and makes the disposal safer and easier. It will reduce the risk faced by the nursing and cleaning staff with highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19.




  • MoHUA launches revised version of Swachhata App to handle queries specific to COVID-19 pandemic
    The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) announced the launch of a revised version of the existing "Swachhata-MoHUA App".

    The pilot version of the revised version of the App is being tested. After its feedback, it will be launched across India.

    Swachhata-MoHUA App:
    The Swachhata-MoHUA App is a highly popular grievance redressal tool for citizens. It functions under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) and already has over 1.7 Crore+ urban users across the country.

    The app has now been modified and strengthened further in order to enable citizens to get their COVID-related complaints also redressed by their respective Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).

    The revised version of the Swachhata App includes 9 categories to better support citizens during this COVID pandemic.

    The nine categories of the revised Swachhata App are:
    1. Request for Fogging and Sanitation during COVID-19
    2. Violation of Quarantine during COVID-19
    3. Violation of Lockdown during COVID-19
    4. Report Suspected case of COVID-19
    5. Request Food during COVID-19
    6. Request Shelter during COVID-19
    7. Request Medicine during COVID-19
    8. Request assistance for COVID-19 patient Transport
    9. Request Waste Pickup from Quarantine Area

    Swachhata App serves as an effective digital tool that enables the citizens to play an active role in the Swachhata of their cities and increase accountability on the part of ULBs.




  • NCL partners with BEL to speed up the manufacturing of Digital IR Thermometer
    CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) Pune, Maharashtra has designed and developed Digital IR Thermometer to held in the help in the mitigation of the Coronavirus outbreak.

    NCL has partnered with Bharat Electronics Ltd, Pune (BEL) to speed up the manufacture of the newly designed thermometer.

    Digital IR Thermometer:
    CSIR-NCL developed a handheld digital Infra-Red (IR) thermometer. It is the primary and important component that is used to measure Coronavirus infection. Digital IR Thermometer can be charged using a mobile phone or power bank as a power source.

    NCL has made the design of IR thermometers available in open source to manufacturers across India for free. The guidelines give complete details about the manufacturing ready hardware and software design.

    The effort is to enable a large number of manufacturers to manufacture the thermometers and cater to their local demands.

    About 100 prototype units will be made for pilot distribution and testing at TUV Rheinland India Pvt Ltd Bangalore.




  • DST funds Genrich Membranes to develop membrane oxygenator equipment
    Department of Science and Technology (DST) is to support and provide funding to the Genrich Membranes, a spin-off company, based on proprietary technology licensed from CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune to increase the membrane oxygenator equipment (MOE).

    MOE is developed to treat COVID-19 patients. The equipment was successfully tested at Genrich.

    Membrane Oxygenator Equipment:
    Innovative-based MOE is an indigenous hollow-fiber membrane technology that enriches oxygen in the air up to 35% under pressure of 4-7 bar, using an oil-free compressor.

    MOE consists of membrane cartridge, oil-free compressor, output flowmeter, humidifier bottle, nasal-cannula, and tubing and fittings. The compressed, filtered air which comes out from the compressor is fed to the membrane cartridge. It selectively permeates oxygen over nitrogen offering oxygen-enriched air as the product at the ambient pressure. The membrane cartridge can distinguish oxygen and nitrogen restricts the passage of viruses, bacteria, and particulate matter. The product air is of medical grade.

    The equipment does not need trained manpower for its operation. It is portable, compact, and needs minimum maintenance. It is provided with a plug-and-play facility providing on-site and quick-start oxygen-enriched air.

    Medical grade oxygen-enriched air is the need of the hour facility to treat COVID-19 situations.

    The device has been designed to meet the requirement of respiratory interventions to treat breathlessness of the patients who have been released from Intensive Care Units (ICU).




  • MHRD launched Bharat Padhe Online campaign
    Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has launched the 'Bharat Padhe Online' campaign on 10 April in New Delhi.

    The campaign aimed for crowdsourcing of Ideas for Improving the Online Education ecosystem of India.

    Aim:
    A week-long campaign aims to invite all the best brains in India to share suggestions and solutions directly with the Ministry of Human Resource Development to overcome constraints of online education while promoting the available digital education platforms.

    Bharat Padhe Online:
    Ideas can be shared on bharatpadheonline.mhrd@gmail.com and on twitter by using # BharatPadheOnline up to 16 April 2020.

    While using Twitter one must tag @HRDMinistry and @DrRPNishank so that the ideas can be notified to them.

    Students and teachers are the main target audience of the campaign.

    It aims to improve existing online education methods.

    The teachers and students can suggest their ideas and queries about what is lacking in the existing online platforms and how can it be made more engaging.

    Educators across the country have been asked to contribute with their expertise and experience in the field of education.




  • CRPF celebrated 55th CRPF Valour Day on 9 April
    The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) celebrated the 55th CRPF Valour Day (ShauryaDiwas) on 9 April 2020. On the occasion, President of India Ram Nath Kovind paid homage to police martyrs at National Police Memorial in New Delhi.

    CRPF Valour Day or ShauryaDiwas:
    The 55th CRPF Valour Day commemorates the defence of the Sardar Post in the Rann of Kutch at the onset of the India-Pakistan War of 1965.

    On the night of 8 and 9 April 1965, nearly 3500 men from the 51st Infantry of Pakistani Army invaded India at Sardar Post with a mission to capture the Indian territory defended by Sardar Post. The Pakistani Army comprised 18 Punjab Battalion, 8 Frontier Rifles, and 6 Baluch battalions.

    The post was guarded by two battalions of CRPF, roughly 150 soldiers. Compared to the Pakistani Army, the CRPF soldiers were no match in terms of an arsenal. Additionally, the terrain was disadvantageous for the defending forces.

    A fight ensued in which the Pakistani Army made three attempts to overrun the post. The battle lasted for 12 hours. In the end, the Pakistani Army fled the battleground leaving behind 34 of their men dead and CRPF lost six of its brave soldiers. Ever since the day has been celebrated by the CRPF as the Valour Day or ShauryaDiwas.




  • GOI sets up PM-CARES fund to deal with COVID-19 pandemic
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Prime Ministers' Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) fund on 28 March to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Prime Minister will be the Chairman of the trust and its Members include Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister.

    PM-CARES Highlight:
    • The dedicated national fund aims to deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Citizens and organizations can visit the website pmindia.gov.in and donate to PM-CARES Fund. The fund will enable micro-donations that allow a large number of people to contribute with the smallest of denominations.
    • Donations to this fund will be exempted from income tax (IT) under section 80(G).
      Details to fund PM-CARES: Account number: 2121PM20202
      IFSC code: SBIN0000691
      SWIFT code: SBININBB104
      UPI id: pmcares@sbi
    Citizens can also donate to the fund on pmindia.gov.in using UPI, Net Banking, Real-time gross settlement (RTGS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and debit and credit cards.



  • Sikkim government announced an economic package to provide immediate relief to EWS
    Sikkim Chief Minister P S Tamang announced an economic package to provide immediate relief to economically weaker sections (EWS) of society following a meeting of the State Task Force for COVID-19 prevention in Gangtok on 27 March.

    Highlights:
    The package includes the provision of rice, pulses, cooking oil, salt, potatoes and onions to families without a government job and a daily wage of Rs.300 for labourers working in all pharma companies operating in Sikkim during the lockdown.

    The State government also announced a one-time monetary incentive of Rs.3,000 for various sections including Sikkim Police personnel engaged in screening and maintaining law and order, health department workers posted at hospitals and checkpoints, truck drivers under State Transport Department engaged in the transportation of essential commodities and Safai Karamcharis working during the lockdown period.

    The State Government has also decided to provide insurance to all the frontline workers and permit the State Bank of Sikkim to allow a three-month moratorium on all loans.




  • GoI declared Hydroxychloroquine as Schedule H1 Drug
    The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a directive that restricts the sale and distribution of hydroxychloroquine.

    The drug has been declared an essential drug to treat the COVID-19 patients.

    Highlights:
    The Central government has specified the sale of the drug in "Schedule H1 to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945."

    Under this, the sale by retail of any preparation containing the drug Hydroxychloroquine should be in accordance with the conditions for the sale of drugs specified in Schedule H1.

    The drug must possess a warning label of "only prescription sale" and against self-medication.

    Also, the chemists should maintain records for the name and address of the prescriber, the name of the patient, the name of the drug and the quantity supplied.

    These records must be maintained for three years and be open for inspection.

    Previously, the National Task Force for COVID-19 constituted by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) recommended the usage of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients.




  • Indian Army launched Operation Namaste
    Indian Army has launched an initiative christened 'Operation Namaste' to extend all possible assistance to the government in containing the spread of coronavirus.

    The operation was launched by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on 27th March.

    Operation Namaste:
    Under the operation, the Indian Army has issued several directives to all its bases to insulate the force from the coronavirus.

    The army has set up a command-wise helpline as part of measures to deal with any possible eventualities arising out of the pandemic.

    The army has set up 28 service hospitals to deal with coronavirus cases including civilian patients.

    Isolation wards are being established at hospitals in formations along the border areas besides launching communication campaigns for the soldiers and officials.




  • Centre approved more than Rs.5 crore to 8 states
    Government of India approved an additional Rs.5,751.27 crore as an aid to 8 states that were hit by floods, landslides, cyclone 'Bulbul' and drought in 2019.

    The approval was decided by a high-level committee under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The eight states which will be given the financial assistance are Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, and West Bengal.

    Highlights:
    The fund will be released from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) which is subject to the adjustment of 50% of balances available in the SDRF account as on 1 April of the current financial year.

    The Centre has already released: Rs.953.17 crore to Bihar, Rs.1758.18 crore to Maharashtra, Rs.1119.98 crore to Rajasthan, Rs.1090.68 crore to West Bengal, Rs.11.48 crore to Karnataka.




  • GoI approves insurance scheme for health workers
    The Central Government approved the launch of insurance scheme for health workers, who are fighting the COVID-19 outbreak, under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package.

    InsuranceScheme:
    Under the scheme, GoI is to provide insurance, to a person who meets with an accident, that covers Rs.50 lakhs for 90 days to a total of around 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers including community health workers who are under the contact and care of COVID-19 patients.

    The announcement came after the announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's who ordered a 21-day lockdown in the entire country to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.



  • IIT Madras collaborated with two Industry Partners for research projects
    Indian Institutes of Technology-Madras (IIT-Madras) has partnered with two industry partners namely MagGenome Technologies and BUDDI Health.

    The partnership aims for research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and magnetic nanoparticles-based products.

    Provisions of Partnership:
    MagGenome Technologies:
    MagGenome Technologies is a Chennai-based nano-biotechnology start-up. It focuses on developing magnetic nanoparticles-based technologies for application in life science, chemical, pharmaceutical, and engineering industries.

    Under the collaboration, IIT-Madar and MagGenome Technologies will develop magnetic nanoparticles-based products including developing advanced nucleic acid extraction kits.

    It will also focus on many other applications of magnetic nanoparticles for providing solutions in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, and environmental remediation.

    BUDDI Healthcare Technologies:
    BUDDI Health is a US-based cloud-based patent-pending deep learning platform for Healthcare.

    With BUDDI Healthcare Technologies, IIT-Madras will develop AI-based software products for the Healthcare industry.




  • Jharkhand launched PRAGYAAM to provide essential services
    State government has launched PRAGYAAM, a Mobile application, on 30 March. The app was launched by the State Chief Minister Hemant Soren.

    The app aims to issue e-passes to everyone associated with the delivery of essential services during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

    Other measures:
    Jharkhand govt has announced to provide 2 months ration in advance to the beneficiaries of the public distribution system (PDS). It is expected that around 90% of the families in the state will benefit from the decision.

    The state also launched an app 'VeggiGo' for people to place an order for essential commodities.




  • Rajasthan celebrated Statehood day on 30 March
    Rajasthan state celebrated the statehood day on 30th March 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people of Rajasthan on its State Day.

    The people of Rajasthan are known for their courage, bravery, and valour.

    Rajasthan:
    Rajasthan (meaning Land of Kings) was formed on 30 March 1949. The State was formed when Rajputana was merged into the Dominion of India.

    The state holds main features including Indus Valley Civilisation at Kalibanga and Balathal, the Dilwara Temples, a Jain pilgrimage site, the Keoladeo National Park among others.




  • TRIFED launched Trifed VanDhan GIS-based website
    A group of 500 officials from the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) has unveiled Trifed VanDhan GIS-based website, the power of Webinars to keep in touch with each other and keep moving and working.

    The move aims to support people working from home amid the lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people across 27 states are working from home. Working on their computers from home, they have raised the bar very high, achieving unbelievable results.

    TRIFED VanDhan GIS-based website:
    The TRIFED VanDhan GIS-based website remains the future medium of communication for 50 lakh tribal gatherers.

    The website was launched online for testing with 27 State teams. TRIFED is arranging atleast 2 team meetings every day and the Team is reaching out to partners to keep moving forward.

    TRIFED set up 1205 VANDhan Centers across 22 states of the country, employing 3 lakh 70 thousand Tribals in ventures to promote entrepreneurship.




  • GoI launched CoNTeC, National Teleconsultation Centre
    Government launched "COVID-19 National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC)." It was launched by the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

    The Project CoNTec was conceptualized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and implemented by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

    Project CoNTec:
    Project CoNTec was initiated with a view to connect the Doctors across the country to AIIMS in real-time for the treatment of the COVID-19 patients. Under the project, the Doctors would be available in the facility 24X7 and to keep it operational 24 hrs.

    The boarding and lodging facility for the doctors will be made available. With this facility, the small states should also make use of the vast experience of the Doctors at AIIMS. The facility will connect the doctors in the country together to discuss amongst themselves the protocols undertaken and provide the best treatment accordingly.

    Doctors can dial to a single mobile number, +91 9115444155, from anywhere in the country/world to reach the CoNTeC which has six lines that can be used simultaneously at present. The CoNTeC Managers will connect to the expert doctors from the clinical domains as desired by the calling specialists managing the COVID-19 cases anywhere in the country. They can also connect two-way video calls using the WhatsApp, Skype or Google Duo as preferred by the caller.




  • Centre launched Stranded in India to help foreign tourists
    The Ministry of Tourism has launched a portal 'Stranded in India'. The portal aims to help foreign tourists who are stuck in various parts of the country.

    Stranded in India:
    The aim of the portal is to extend support to the foreign tourists who are stranded in India.

    The Ministry of Tourism launched the portal to disseminate information regarding the services that can be availed by foreign tourists who are stuck far away from their homeland. People can visit the strandedinindia.com.

    The portal consists of information around COVID-19 helpline numbers and call centres that foreign tourists can reach out for help from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) control centers.




  • NGMA launched Virtual Tour of its permanent collection
    National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) celebrated the 66th Foundation Day on 29 March 2020.

    On the occasion, NGMA launched "Virtual Tour of its permanent collection" for the visitors.

    Virtual Tour by NGMA:
    People are not allowed to visit NGMA due to the lockdown for 21 days in India as a measure to curb COVID-19 spread.

    The Virtual launch was launched so that the visitors can enjoy without having to physically visit the Museum. It had plenty to explore and ponder over.

    The permanent collection reflected its repository as an institution of dynamic and progressive collective acumen.

    The sculptures, paintings, and prints in the visual tour are a step further to showcase the hidden treasures of the reserve collection.

    The visual tour was a tribute to the modern masters. It was expected that it will generate greater interest among people towards the legacy of sculptures, paintings, and prints as a creative medium.

    The website for the virtual tour is "http://www.ngmaindia.gov.in/index.asp".




  • NBT launched Corona Studies Series books
    National Book Trust (NBT) is to launch Corona Studies Series books to provide relevant reading materials for all age-groups for the post-Corona readership needs. The information was passed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

    Corona Studies Series books:
    NBT's initiative aims to launch the series in order for the people to realize the extraordinary psychological, social, economic and cultural significance of Corona Pandemic for human society in times to come.

    NBT has comprised a 'Study Group' in this regard. The group comprises of Dr.JitenderNagpal, Dr.Harsheeta, Sq. Ldr (Rtd.) MeenaArora, Lt. Col. TarunUppal, Mrs. RekhaChauhan, Mrs. SonieSidhu, and Ms. Aparajita Dixit.

    The 'Corona Studies Series' is expected to be the long-term contribution to prepare and engage readers with the various aspects of the Corona times. NBT plans to bring out affordable books in various Indian languages in the identified subject areas.

    It also provides a platform for the authors and researchers to contribute to this genre. It aims to bring out the affordable books in various Indian languages in the identified subject areas.




  • GoI extends validity of expired Driving Licences and Vehicle Registration till 30 June
    The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced an extension on the validity of documents like driving licenses, permits and registration that are expired since 1 February.

    The Ministry has directed all states and Union Territories (UT) to treat the documents as valid till 30 June.

    Highlights:
    The move by the Government aims to help the people who face difficulties in renewing the validity of various motor vehicle documents due to nationwide lockdown and closure of government transport offices due to the coronavirus outbreak.

    As per the Ministry's guidelines, the documents include fitness, permits of all types, driving licence, registration or any other concerned document under the Motor Vehicle Rules.

    The Ministry has directed all states/UTs to implement so that the people and transporters and organizations that render essential services do not get harassed and face difficulties amid the lockdown aimed to curb the spread of COVID-19.




  • ICAR directs farmers to handle safety measures during Rabi harvesting
    The government's agri-research body Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) directed the farmers to follow social distancing and safety precaution while handling farm machines and labour in the field during the Rabi harvesting.

    Guidelines for Farmers:
    The farmers should consult with agri-scientists in KrishiVigyanKendras (KVKs), ICAR research institutes and state agricultural universities to tackle any emerging issue related to managing crops, livestock and fisheries.

    As the harvesting season of rabi food crops such as wheat, millets, pulses and oilseeds and other crops in coinciding with the COVID-19 outbreak, the farmers should take precautions while being engaged in the harvesting of grains, fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, and fish.

    Farmers should check for proper sanitation for using shared or hired machinery for harvesting. Proper sanitization includes washing of hands with alcohol rub or soap and maintaining isolation distance at a personal level and proper cleaning of shared machinery.

    The government recently exempted farming operations, farmworkers, custom hiring centres of farm harvesters from the lockdown rules.




  • India expands its capacity for PPE kits, 12 domestic firms meet the norms
    The central government has approved the qualification of 12 Indian companies to meet the demands of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and the challenge posed by COVID-19.

    The 12 companies have set parameters to manufacture personal protective gear for use by healthcare workers.

    Approval:
    PPE consists of a special gown, mask, eye shield, shoe cover, and gloves that doctors wear while treating the patients.

    The 12 approved Indian manufacturers cleared the South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) test to supply PPE to the government.

    The companies are Sai Synergy-Gurgaon, Sure Safety-Vadodara, Amaryllis-Bangalore, SCG Enterprises-Ghaziabad, Shree Healthcare-Chennai, Anirut, Industries, Frontiers Protective wear, Arvind, Manchanda, Shiva Texyan Ltd, JCT Pagwara.

    As per the data provided by the Health Ministry, 3.34 lakh PPEs are available in various hospitals across the country. So far, GoI has already procured and supplied 60,000 PPE kits.

    Also, two other companies namely Venue Healthcare and Magnum, were approved to manufacture N-95 masks. The companies are currently providing a supply of 50,000 masks per day. The companies are planning to manufacture lakh masks per day within the next week. Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) is currently providing over 20,000 masks per day.




  • GoI passed Ordinance to make PM CARES donations tax free
    The government of India passed "Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020" on 31 March.

    The Ordinance will give relief in compliance in filing income tax, Goods and Services Tax (GST), customs and central excise returns, to help taxpayers tide over the coronavirus crisis.

    Ordinance Highlights:
    The ordinance provides relaxation in several compliances including the extension in deadline to 30 June to make investments in instruments such as National Savings Certificates, Public Provident Fund for claiming income tax benefits.

    The Ordinance seeks amendment to the Income-tax (IT) Act, Benami Act.

    It aims to amend the IT Act to enable a 100% deduction for donations made to the PM's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund. It was set up to enable citizens to contribute to the government's effort to curb the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak.

    It will also provide an extension of various time limits for making various investments or payments including for claiming deduction under 80C, 80D, and 80G to 30 June 2020.

    Contribution towards PM CARES Fund was eligible for a 50% deduction as it was notified under section 80G(5). Also, contributions to PM National Relief Fund and to CM's Relief Fund/Lieutenant Governor's Relief Fund in respect of any State/Union Territory (UT), were eligible for 100% deduction under Section 80G(1) read with clause (iii a) of section 80G(2).




  • Centre launched DARPGs National Monitoring Dashboard
    Dr. Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions, launched the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances' (DARPG) National Monitoring Dashboard on COVID-19 Grievances on 1 April.

    National Monitoring Dashboard:
    The National Monitoring Dashboard was developed and implemented at https://darpg.gov.in.

    COVID-19 related grievances received in Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) with all Ministries/Departments and States/Union Territories (UT) are monitored on a priority basis by a technical team of DARPG.

    The establishment of National Monitoring Dashboard pursuance of the Empowered Group of Officers 10 constituted under the Disaster Management Act 2005 on Public Grievances and Suggestions to ensure timely implementation of COVID-19 Response Activities.

    It will ensure timely redressal of COVID-19 grievances and directions that have been issued to all Ministries/ Departments to prioritize these grievances and provide redressal in a period of 3 days.

    The portal will be updated and monitored at senior levels in Government on a daily basis.

    The National Monitoring Dashboard received 43 grievances of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 31 grievances of Ministry of External Affairs and 26 grievances of Ministry of Finance, so far. The nature of grievances related to quarantine facilities, lockdown not being adhered to complaints, essential supplies related complaints, examination related complaints, rescheduling of interest repayments on loans, evacuation requests from foreign countries, etc.




  • Utkal Diwas is observed on 1 April
    Utkal Diwas means Odisha day is observed on 1 April in Odisha every year. The day marks the formation of the state in the year 1936.

    The day remembers the contributions and sacrifices made by the people of Odisha. Utkal Diwas is celebrated in many cities, towns in India and abroad where people from Odisha reside.

    History:
    The state was formed as a politically separate state under British rule on a linguistic basis on1 April 1936. The newly formed Orissa State consisted of six districts namely Puri, Baleswar, Sambalpur, Koraput, Ganjam, and Cuttack. The capital of Odisha was Cuttack. The first Governor of Odisha Province was John Austin Hubback.

    In 1950, the State became a constituent state of India. In 2011, the name of the state was changed to Odisha from Orrisa and the name of its language was changed to Odia from Oria. Later, with an increased population, the state was divided into 30 districts.




  • Lifeline Udan flights supplied medical supplies to treat COVID-19 across India
    Lifeline Udan flights have transported over 15.4 tonnes of essential medical supplies across India amid coronavirus lockdown.

    The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) stated that 62 Lifeline Udan flights were operated in this regard.

    Lifeline Udan:
    Lifeline Udan was launched by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). It was launched to transport essential medical supplies across the country.

    A total of 62 Lifeline Udan flights were operated during the five-day period from 26-30 March.

    The Lifeline Udan cargo includes essential medical supplies for COVID-19 related reagents, medical equipment, enzymes, testing kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks, gloves and other accessories that are required to treat the COVID-19 patients across the country.

    The carriers involved in Lifeline Udan operations include the Indian Air Force (IAF), Pawan Hans, Air India, and Alliance Air.

    Also, few private carriers like Spicejet, Blue Dart, and IndiGo are operating medical cargo flights on a commercial basis.

    The Lifeline Udan flights are planned using a hub and spoke model. Cargo hubs were established in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Kolkata. Lifeline Udan flights connect these hubs to each other and different parts of the country.




  • AP provides doorstep pension payment to 58 lakh beneficiaries
    The Andhra Pradesh state government has started distributing pensions at the doorstep to 58,44,240 beneficiaries with an objective to offer them held and to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

    The state used 2.5 lakh volunteers to eliminate the need for pensioners to step out of their homes.

    Highlights:
    Under the move of the govt. a wide range of people will benefit from the disbursement of the pension that began on 1 April.

    Also, old-age persons, widows, single women, weavers, fishermen, folk artists, and traditional cobblers will receive an amount of Rs.2,250 each.

    To support the people in the state during the COVID-19 outbreak, people with disabilities, transgenders and Dappu artists will receive an amount of Rs.3,000.

    Also, people who suffer chronic disease and are undergoing kidney dialysis at government and network hospitals will receive an amount of Rs.10,000.

    The fund will be first distributed to the pensioners and then the government will give financial relief to the poor and needy delivered at the doorstep on the 4 April using the same network of volunteers.




  • Freightwalla launched app to offer all remote services
    Freightwalla, a Digital freight forwarding startup, has launched a mobile application to offer all the services. The app is a part of a larger "work from anywhere, anytime" initiative.

    The startups aim to make logistics and supply chain accessible 24x7, from anywhere, on any device.

    The apps are to make it possible for logistics managers and business owners to plan, manage and track their shipments right on their mobile screens.

    Freightwalla's Mobile app:
    Freightwalla's new mobile app is an extension of the Freightwalla digital web platform.

    The app uses the same technology as the website of the logistics, which is backed by a secure SSI encryption.

    The app offers USPs namely Instant quotations, Online chat support, Intelligent Cargo Tracking, Real-time status reports and Documentation Management.

    The app complies with the highest level of security for several user data and information that is exchanged on the app.




  • Indigram awarded the winners of the Adhunik Gram program
    A leading agri-tech focused incubator Indigram Labs Foundation has announced the winners of its smart village program 'Adhunik Gram',

    Winners:
    The winner of the program was Indus Till FarmeTech Pvt. Ltd. The firm was awarded a cash prize of Rs.1 Lakh.

    The first runner up was Urdhvam Environmental Technologies Pvt. Ltd. It was awarded a cash prize of Rs.50,000 and the second runner up was Impagro farming solutions Pvt. Ltd. which won a cash prize of Rs.30,000.

    It received over 120 applications of which 14 start-ups were shortlisted and 11 start-ups presented on demo day.

    Adhunik Gram:
    Adhunik Gram is an initiative to empower agribusiness in rural India. The program was launched in September 2019. The program was launched with support from NABARD.

    The program aimed not only to help the people in the rural area to earn a very basic livelihood but for the upliftment of the rural economy as a whole. The program aims to adopt a balanced approach to maintain a balance between rural and urban quality of life.

    It is also expected that policies, tools, and instruments should deliver valuable building blocks for 'Smart Villages'. The mission of the program is "A Better Life in Rural Areas".

    So far, the program has achieved significant outcomes for the selected start-ups to address agricultural and rural development issues in rural India in collaboration with farmers, Cooperatives, Government and private Institutions.




  • Centre to treat Medical devices as Drugs from 1 April
    The Central government announced that all medical devices that are sold in India will be treated as drugs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

    The move came into effect from 1 April 2020. The instructions were issued by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.

    Medical devices as drugs:
    As per the instructions of GoI, all medical devices will be regulated by the government as drugs for quality control and price monitoring.

    At present, GoI is regulating 24 classes of medical devices under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. These 24 classes of devices will be regulated as drugs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act (DCA) 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945.

    All medical devices that are used to treat a patient including syringes, needles, a knee implant, digital thermometers, cardiac stents, CT scan, MRIs, dialysis machines will be treated under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

    Ceiling prices for four medical devices have been fixed and the devices are under price control. The 4 medical devices are Intrauterine devices (Cu-T), condoms, cardiac stents, and drug-eluting stents.




  • MHA issued 2020 JK Reorganisation Adaptation of State Laws Order
    Centre issued Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020. The order was issued by the Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) on 1 April. The order came with immediate effect.

    Out of the total 138 state laws of J&K, 25 laws have been repealed as a whole and other laws have been adopted with substitutes.

    J&K Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020:
    The order aims for the adaptation and modification of State Laws specific to the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir. It will also further facilitate the application of Central Laws to the newly formed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

    The 25 laws that were repealed include J&K State Aid to Industries Act, J&K Civic Laws Act, J&K Civil Services Act, J&K Deputy Ministers Salaries and Allowances Act, J&K State Emergency Relief Fund Act, among others.

    MHA added a domicile clause in the J&K Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment Act). Jobs will be reserved under domicile for only those who fulfill the requirements of "Domicile".



  • Action COVID-19 Team launched in India to combat COVID-19 crisis
    Founders of leading startups, investors, advisors, supporters, investment advisory firms have launched Action COVID-19 Team (ACT).

    ACT aims to provide guidance and resources to startup founders and employees in the country. It also aims to empower teams through financial grants and mentoring.

    Action COVID-19 Team:
    ACT Grants will grant a Rs.100 crore program. It aims to seed over 50 initiatives through grants to combat the economic crisis caused in India due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    The platform will bring its networks, startup assets, and team money to create a force multiplier to help these initiatives make rapid meaningful progress.

    In order to combine the resources of the startup community, a 25-member team has been formed. The team will enable rapid evaluation and recommendations on potential projects.

    The group will be supported by NGOs and leading industry veterans. It will also collaborate with government agencies to scale up solutions that show promising results.




  • DST-SERB announces first set of approved projects to combat COVID-19 crisis
    The Department of Science and Technology-Science and Engineering Board (DST-SERB) has announced several special research projects to ramp up national R&D efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Highlights:
    DST-SERB has selected the first set of 5 projects. It will be supported for further development into implementable technologies.

    Three of the selected projects aim to address the issue of antiviral and virustatic surface coating of inanimate surfaces, such as personal protection equipment (PPE).

    The 4th project deals with the identification of metabolite biomarkers in CoVID-19 infected patients enabling therapeutic target identification.

    The 5th project is concerned with the development of antibodies against the receptor-binding domain of the spike glycoprotein of coronavirus.

    The 5 projects of DST-SERB are:1) Identification of global metabolite biomarkers in CoVID-19 infected patients for targeted therapy.
    2) Development of functionalized inanimate surfaces with repurposable multi-targeted viricidal agents/drugs for preventive and cost-effective antiviral applications.
    3) Development of antiviral surface coatings to prevent the spread of infections caused by the influenza virus.
    4) Development of formulations for viral decontamination of inanimate surfaces
    5) Antibody-based capture of 2019-nCoV and its inactivation using lipid-based in situ gel.




  • MCA extends tenure of Prakash Kumar as acting President of NCLT for 3 years
    The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has extended the tenure of Shri BSV Prakash Kumar as acting President of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for a period of 3 years.

    MCA informed NCLT about the extension of the tenure to another three months or till the joining of new President, whichever is earlier. The appointment will effective from 5 April 2020

    Earlier, Prakash Kumar was appointed as acting President for a period of three months from 5 January 2020 after the retirement of Justice MM Kumar as the NCLT President. The three months tenure is set to expire on 5 April.




  • MoD received USD 8.82 million FDI during 2000-2019 periods
    Ministry of Defence (MoD) has received foreign direct investment (FDI) of $8.82 million (around Rs.51.93 crore) during the period April 2000 and December 2019.

    The Ministry announced it on 1 April. As per the data provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, FDI in the defence sector was aggregated at $2.18 million in 2018-19.

    Highlights:
    The data showed that, during the period April 2000-December 2019, the Foreign fund inflows in retail trading stood at $2 billion.

    The top countries from where India attracted maximum FDI during the period are Mauritius, Singapore, Japan, Netherlands, and the US.

    Also, the total merchandise imports from China were $76.3 billion in 2017-18 and it decreased to $70.3 billion in 2018-19. The total imports from China during April 2019- January 2020 were $57.9 billion.




  • Centre permits farmers to use eNAM to avoid market place
    Government of India (GoI) allowed farmers to directly sell produce from premises of farmers producer organizations (FPO) and selected warehouses through electronic marketing platform Electronic National Agriculture Market (eNAM).

    The announcement was made by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on 2 April. The minister launched the logistics module to support the transportation of produce directly from FPO centres and warehouses.

    Benefits:
    The aim of the move is to introduce a major agriculture reform that will decongest market place.

    The move by GOI will help farmers to sell produce at remunerative prices near to their farm gate without coming to the market place (mandis).

    The Centre launched the required software facilities to create a direct marketing channel alternative to mandis.

    FPOs and farmers can now use online facilities for transportation that can be tracked.

    It is being planned that eNAM will soon be expanded to 1,000 mandis from the existing 585 mandis across 16 states and two UTs.

    For this purpose following 3 modules, namely Negotiable Warehouse Receipt (e-NWRs) module in eNAM software, FPO trading module, Logistic Module has been launched to enhance the effectiveness of eNAM.

    3 Modules:
    Under the Negotiable Warehouse Receipt (e-NWRs) module, the farmers can sell the products across the Nation to get better Price and at the same time can save themselves from the hassle of mandi. It will help the depositor to save the Logistics expenses and will have a better income.

    FPO trading module will help FPOs by reducing transaction costs (Transportation) and enhancing their bargaining power. It will also facilitate FPOs to avail online payment facility with ease of doing business.

    Logistic Module will help in seamless transportation of Agri produce. It will also promote inter-State trade under e-NAM by providing online transport facilities for distant buyers.



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