IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


15th April, 2020


 1.      Teltumbde, Navlakha surrender to NIA


—Civil rights campaigner Gautam Navlakha and scholar and activist Anand Teltumbde surrendered to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in New Delhi and Mumbai respectively for their alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon riots of 2018.

—The case against them was transferred from the Pune police to the NIA in January. Both have been charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

—In a statement, Amnesty International India said, “The clampdown on dissent in India continues. Even during a pandemic, the Government of India is targeting those critical of the government. When hard-won rights to expression and peaceful protest are weakened, everyone stands to lose.”


About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

—It is an Indian law aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India. Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.

—The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.

The Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963 was enacted to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India. In order to implement the provisions of 1963 Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Bill was introduced in the Parliament.


About Amnesty International

—Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is a non-governmental organization with its headquarters in the United Kingdom focused on human rights.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/elgar-parishad-case-anand-teltumbde-gautam-navlakha-surrender-to-nia/article31338048.ece

 2.      Corona virus | Bhopal gas survivors left in the lurch


—Four of the five patients who died of COVID-19 in Bhopal were survivors of the city’s 1984-gas tragedy, and were suffering from respiratory illnesses that made them more vulnerable to the disease.


About Bhopal disaster


—Also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, it was a gas leak incident on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. It is considered to be the world's worst industrial disaster.

—Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas. The highly toxic substance made its way into and around the small towns located near the plant.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-bhopal-gas-survivors-left-in-the-lurch/article31342630.ece


3. Governor can call for floor test if he feels State govt is shaky


-A Governor can call for a floor test any time he objectively feels a government in power has lost. The confidence of the House and is on shaky ground, the Supreme Court.

-In a 68-page judgment, a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta concluded that a

Governor can call for a trust vote if he has arrived at a prima facie opinion, based on objective material, that the incumbent State government has lost its majority in the Assembly.

-The idea underlying the trust vote is to uphold the political accountability of the elected government to the State legislature. In directing a trust vote, the Governor does not favour a particular political party. It is inevitable that the specific timing of a trust vote may tilt the balance towards the party possessing a majority at the time the trust vote is directed. All political parties are equally at risk of losing the support of their elected legislators, just as the legislators are at risk of losing the vote of the electorate. This is how the system of parliamentary governance operates.

-The court clarified that the Governor's requirement to have a trust vote does not “short-circuit” any disqualification proceedings pending before the Speaker. It said a Governor need not wait for the Speaker's decision on the resignation of rebel MLAs before calling for a trust vote in the House.

-But Governors cannot misuse their wide powers to call for a floor test to displace elected governments for political reasons, the court stressed.



-The judgment is based on the Madhya Pradesh political controversy, which led to the fall of Kamal

Nath government and the return of the BJP regime under Shivraj Singh Chauhan after 22 Congress MLAs offered their resignations to the Speaker. On March 19, the Bench ordered a floor test in the House within the next 24 hours. However, Mr. Nath had resigned before the trust vote.

-This judgment is a detailed version of what was pronounced in court on March 19. The core arguments raised by the Congress party was how the Governor had no authority to demand that then Mr. Nath should take a floor test on March 16 in the opening session of the Budget.





1. Yamuna cleaner due to lockdown


—The quality of water in the Delhi stretch of the Yamuna has increased due to “complete reduction in industrial pollutants” in the river during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to an analysis report of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).


Increased discharge

—An increased discharge of water from Haryana to Delhi has also aided the process, said DJB officials.

—The report accessed by The Hindu shows that the Dissolved Oxygen (DO) levels at two points along the river is above 5 mg/L, which is the recommended level of DO for bathing in a river.

—The quality of water increases with the increase in the DO levels.

—Yamuna enters Delhi in Palla and then travels downstream through Wazirabad and Majnu Ka Tilla to Okhla.

— Also, the Biochemical Oxygen Demand, another parameter that is used to measure the quality of the water, is better at multiple points, according to the report.

  • Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed (i.e. demanded) by aerobic biological organisms to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/yamuna-cleaner-due-to-lockdown/article31342401.ece


2. Amid lockdown, poachers eye rhino horns


—The COVID-19 lockdown has activated poachers who had been forced into lying low for more than a year. At least six thwarted attempts have been made within a week in and around Assam’s national parks.

—On April 11, a member of the Special Rhino Protect Force received bullet injuries during an encounter with a group of poachers in the Biswanath division of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP).

—The police in Sonitpur district arrested five people on April 13 involved in attempted poaching at the Nameri National Park.

—Cases were registered under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and the Arms Act.

—The International Rhino Foundation has insisted that China, Vietnam and other countries must do more than merely banning wildlife trade temporarily.


About Kaziranga National Park

—It is a national park in the Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam, India. The sanctuary, which hosts two-thirds of the world's great one-horned rhinoceroses, is a World Heritage Site.

—According to the census held in March 2018, which was jointly conducted by the Forest Department of the Government of Assam and some recognized wildlife NGOs, the rhino population in Kaziranga National Park is 2,413.

—Kaziranga is home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006 (now the highest tiger density is in Orang National Park, Assam).

—The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer. —Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species. When compared with other protected areas in India, Kaziranga has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high species diversity and visibility.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/amid-lockdown-hunters-eye-rhino-horns/article31342096.ece


3. Centre to monitor lockdown impact on Ganga, Yamuna pollution

—The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) the arm of the Water Ministry tasked with directing the ₹20,000 crores clean-up of the Ganga — and the Central Pollution Control Board are expected to find out in ten days, officials told The Hindu.

—Water samples have been collected from Delhi (Yamuna) and all Ganga basin States, and are in the process of being analysed.

—While this was also part of the routine water quality monitoring in the river, there was a “special focus” on the impact of lockdown, said D.P. Mathuria, senior NMCG official in charge of water quality management.

—Measuring the degree of chemical oxygen demand (COD) and ammonium nitrate would point to whether the lockdown has had an impact. Effluents from industries as well as sewage discharge would affect COD levels.

  • The chemical oxygen demand is an indicative measure of the amount of oxygen that can be consumed by reactions in a measured solution.

—Municipal sewage usually made up 80% of the Ganga, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, which is why Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) are a key activity under the NMCG. Industrial pollution from tanneries, cane crushing units and others sources come next.


About NMCG

— National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.It acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986. NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 7th October 2016, consequent to constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council).


About CPCB

— The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Mo.E.F.C).

—It was established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974. The CPCB is also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

—It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

—It Co-ordinates the activities of the State Pollution Control Boards by providing technical assistance and guidance and also resolves disputes among them. It is the apex organisation in country in the field of pollution control, as a technical wing of MoEFC.

—The board is led by its Chairperson, who is generally a career civil servant from the Indian Administrative Service appointed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet of the Government of India.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/centre-to-monitor-lockdown-impact-on-ganga-yamuna-pollution/article31330805.ece






  1. 1.      83% drop in rape cases in Delhi during lockdown


—The Capital witnessed a sharp decline in heinous crime against women since the beginning of lockdown, the data shared by Delhi Police sources show.

—Explaining the decreased rate of crime against women, the officer said that molestation has reduced because there is no visual contact.

—Another factor is people are not able to procure alcohol, which is a trigger for many crimes.


Society and crime

—“If there is society, only then there is crime,” said another officer adding, “Social distancing has also kept crime at a distance”.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/83-drop-in-rape-cases-during-lockdown/article31342419.ece


  1. 2.      Local bodies told to give personal protective equipment to sanitation workers


The National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) has asked local bodies to ensure that all sanitation workers are provided personal protective equipment (PPE) to remain safe during the novel corona virus pandemic.


Mandatory orientation

—All local bodies were asked to put in place a standard operating procedure for the safety of sanitation staff. There should be mandatory orientation for sanitation workers on COVID-19, social distancing norms and precautionary measures, it said. The local bodies were asked to provide equipment, including masks, gloves, gumboots and jackets, as well as soaps and hand sanitisers for helping maintain hygiene.


About National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC)

— was set up in January 1997 as a non-profit company under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India to empower the Scavengers, Safai Karamcharis and their dependents to break away their traditional occupation, depressed social condition and poverty and leverage them to work their own way up the social and economic ladder with dignity and pride. Its head office is currently located in Greater Kailash Enclave Part-II, New Delhi.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/local-bodies-told-to-give-personal-protective-equipment-to-sanitation-workers/article31342186.ece


3. Coronavirus | Survey of India maps to bolster Arogya Setu app

—To “complement” the Arogya Setu App, a government endorsed application that helps trace the contacts of those who may have been infected by COVID-19, the Survey of India (SoI); the country’s apex map maker has made public a trove of maps.

—This could improve geospatial data as well as help develop maps that could be customised to a variety of ‘COVID-related applications’ such as healthcare facilities, infection clusters and disaster management, according to officials associated with the project.

—“The platform is initially expected to strengthen the public health delivery system of the State and Central governments and subsequently provide the necessary geospatial information support to citizens and agencies dealing with the challenges related to health, socio-economic distress, and livelihood challenges,” the Department of Science and Technology, which oversees the SoI, said in a press release.

—To be effective, it requires users to keep their device’s Bluetooth and location history ‘on’ as much as possible. Users will be alerted, without disclosing identity, if they are in the vicinity of someone who has tested positive. It also helps the government trace contacts of those infected to execute quarantining.

—Critics say that Arogya Setu and applications like Sahyog that link to it, could infringe privacy, as there was not clarity on how data would be shared between the two applications. “If location data from Arogya Setu is transferred to the other application, then it is a problem. But if it is a one way transfer from Sahyog to Arogya Setu, then it is more about privacy protection within the latter application,” said Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director, Software Freedom Law Centre, and India.

—Arogya Setu’s terms of use were unclear on several aspects including how long data would be stored, what would happen to it once the pandemic ceased, who else the data was being transferred to, he added.

—The government has said that data would be collected only for managing the pandemic.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-survey-of-india-maps-to-bolster-arogya-setu-app/article31340638.ece




 1.      Vishu celebrated in Sabarimala without entry to devotees


Kerala’s annual harvest festival, Vishu, was celebrated at Sabarimala strictly adhering to the lockdown norms.

—For the first time in its history, pilgrims were denied entry into Sabarimala, deemed as the largest pilgrimage centre in the whole of south India, against the backdrop of the nationwide lockdown as part of the COVID-19 prevention drive.

—The Lord Ayyappa Temple at the holy hillock of Sabarimala was opened in afternoon for the five-day monthly rituals in the Malayalam month of Medom.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/vishu-celebrated-in-sabarimala-without-entry-to-devotees/article31337369.ece




1. Corona bond: On Euro zone COVID-19 rescue package


—Deliberations on the €540-billion emergency rescue package that Euro zone Finance Ministers agreed on the difficult road ahead to chart the economic recovery from the corona virus crisis.

—They also decided to open an emergency credit line in a fortnight, raise the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank and back the European Commission’s €100-billion unemployment insurance scheme.

—Separately, the European Central Bank in March decided to expand its asset purchase programme by €750-billion over the next nine months, even as its President, Christine Lagarde, pledged to do whatever it took to save the single currency.

—But the current formula has stoked controversy, like during the economic meltdown, over burden-sharing between the richer members in the north and the poorer states in the south.

— The Netherlands initially opposed demands from Italy, the country worst affected by the virus outbreak, that the pandemic credit to be issued by the European Stability Mechanism be stripped of any conditionalities.

—Rome’s reasoning that the public health emergency was universal and symmetrical may have influenced the final deal, which allows governments borrowing from the bailout fund to spend up to 2% of GDP on direct and indirect costs of the pandemic without strings attached.

—All the same, the emergency package has drawn furious opposition from the populist Five Star Movements in Italy’s ruling coalition as also the far-right and Eurosceptic Northern League, linked to apprehensions about intrusive EU inspections.

—But a key concern is the frustration among Rome’s pro-European elites with what they regard as reluctance by Brussels to extend meaningful support.

—France, Italy and Spain, the bloc’s three largest economies, with six other members in the euro area wrote in late March to the European Council President, renewing calls for joint issuance of Eurobonds, now dubbed corona bonds. Ms. Lagarde has backed such a move.

—The idea of mutual issuance of debt has drawn only a lukewarm response from Berlin, Amsterdam and the bloc’s other members.

—With the Eurozone’s three largest economies after Germany throwing their weight behind the new financial instrument, it may not be long before the bloc’s fiscal hawks rethink their stance.

—The economic and political consequences of failure on this count would hamper the post-pandemic recovery, and could affect European solidarity.

—European leaders would do well to address this fact when they formulate an economic recovery after the crisis.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/corona-bond-the-hindu-editorial-on-eurozones-covid-19-rescue-package/article31342021.ece


2. Economic liberalisation and its faults

Dr. Manmohan Singh’s 1991-92 Budget speech marked the beginning of the end of the ‘Licence Raj’ in India. The Budget also announced the reduction of import duties and paved the way for foreign-manufactured goods to flow into India.

—Following this, most of the manufacturing sector was opened up to foreign direct investment. India’s industrial policy was virtually junked, and policymakers and the political leadership became contemptuous of the idea of self-reliance.

A disastrous model

—In the late 1980s, transnational corporations started shifting the production base to smaller companies in developing countries, especially Asia, in search of cheap labour and raw materials. —Thus, the world witnessed the development of global supply chains in many products starting with garments, wherein huge companies with massive market power dictated the terms to smaller manufacturers down the value chain to produce cheaply.

—Though many developing countries participated in the global production/value/supply chains, the substantial value addition in developing countries happened in a few production hubs, of which China emerged to be a major one.

—Manufacturing shifted from a decentralised production system spread across different counties to just a few locations.

—However, countries like China defied the logic of supply/value chains ensuring substantial value addition for themselves. They even carried out backward integration and thus emerged as global manufacturing hubs for certain products.

—In the case of health products, China became the global supplier of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical devices diagnostics.

—This has major implications for the COVID-19 outbreak. The resultant loss of manufacturing base has affected the ability of many governments, including of developed countries, to put up an effective response to the crisis.

—The U.K. Prime Minister asked the country’s manufacturers to produce ventilators in order to provide care for critical COVID-19 patients.

—Similarly, the U.S. President invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950 to ramp up N95 mask production. Under this legislation, the U.S. President can direct U.S. manufacturers to shift from their normal manufacturing activities to produce goods according to the directions of the government.

—Similarly, the French Health Minister stated that the country may nationalise vaccine companies if necessary.

—Spain nationalised all its private hospitals.

—Israel and Chile issued compulsory licences to ensure that medicines are affordable.

—This shows that what is good for the company may not be good the country in all circumstances. So, the overwhelming objective of private sector-led economic growth has proved to be disastrous.


In India, economic liberalisation has damaged the government’s capacity in two ways.

First, it incapacitated the government to respond to emergencies based on credible information. The dismantling of the ‘Licence Raj’ resulted in the elimination of channels of information for the government, which is crucial to make informed policy choices.

—For instance, as part of the removal of ‘Licence Raj’, the government stopped asking for information from the manufacturer to file the quantity of production of various medicines.

—As a result, it has taken weeks now and a series of meetings for the government to gather information about stocks and the production capacity of pharmaceutical companies.

—Similarly, there were difficulties in finding out India’s production capacity of PPE, medical devices and diagnostics.

Second, the logic and policies of economic liberalisation seriously undermined the manufacturing capabilities of health products in India.

—The short-sighted policy measures, with the objective of enhancing profitability of the private sector, allowed the import of raw materials from the cheapest sources and resulted in the debasing of the API industry, especially in essential medicine.

—According to a report of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), nearly 70% of India’s API import is from China.

—The disruption in the supply of API due to the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the production of not only medicines required for COVID-19 patients, but also of other essential medicines in India.


The dangers of dependency

Similar dependence exists with regard to PPE, medical devices and diagnostic kits.

The 100% dependence on Reagents, an important chemical component for testing, is limiting the capacity of the government from expanding testing because the cost of each test is ₹4,500.

—Dependence on imports affects the ability of Indian diagnostic companies to provide an affordable test for all those who want to test for COVID-19.

—There are only a few domestic manufacturers who can produce PPE and medical devices like ventilators.

—In the name of economic efficiency, India allowed unconditional imports of these products and never took note of the dangers of dependency.

—Global supply/production chains not only destroyed the manufacturing base in developed and developing countries; they also resulted in loss of jobs and poor working conditions in these sectors. —Developing countries were asked to ease their labour protection laws to facilitate global production and supply chains popularly known as global value chains.

—This created an unorganised army of labourers and is preventing many developing country governments from effectively offering relief.

—A virus has made us rethink our obsession with the economic efficiency theory. It implores us to put in place an industrial policy to maintain core capacity in health products so that we can face the next crisis more decisively.


About API

—An active ingredient is the ingredient in a pharmaceutical drug or pesticide that is biologically active. The similar terms active pharmaceutical ingredient and bulk active are also used in medicine, and the term active substance may be used for natural products. Some medication products may contain more than one active ingredient.

— The dosage form for a pharmaceutical contains the active pharmaceutical ingredient, which is the drug substance itself, and excipients, which are the ingredients of the tablet, or the liquid in which the active agent is suspended, or other material that is pharmaceutically inert. Drugs are chosen primarily for their active ingredients. During formulation development, the excipients are chosen carefully so that the active ingredient can reach the target site in the body at the desired rate and extent.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/economic-liberalisation-and-its-faults/article31341924.ece


3. ASEAN leaders meet online to tackle virus


—Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit held online on Tuesday, leaders of the virus hit region warned of the crippling economic cost of COVID­19, calling for trade routes to reopen to protect jobs and food supplies, as well as the stockpiling of medical equipment.



The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten countries in Southeast Asia, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other countries in Asia.





 1.      Corona virus | Lockdown norms can’t be diluted: NDMA


—The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued an order under the Disaster Management Act directing Chairman, National Executive Committee, that existing lockdown measures be continued to be implemented in all parts of the country till May 3. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla is the chairman of the committee.


About National Disaster Management Authority

—Abbreviated as NDMA, is an apex Body of Government of India, with a mandate to lay down policies for disaster management.

—NDMA was established through the Disaster Management Act enacted by the Government of India on 23 December 2005.

—NDMA is responsible for framing policies, laying down guidelines and best-practices for coordinating with the State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) to ensure a holistic and distributed approach to disaster management.

—It is headed by the Prime Minister of India and can have up to nine other members. Since 2014, there have been four other members. There is a provision to have a Vice Chair-person if needed.

—NDMA has a vision to "build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, pro-active, technology driven and sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and fosters a culture of prevention, preparedness and mitigation."

—NDMA equips and trains other Government officials, institutions and the community in mitigation for and response during a crisis situation or a disaster. It works closely with the National Institute of Disaster Management for capacity building. It develops practices, delivers hands-on training and organizes drills for disaster management. It also equips and trains disaster management cells at the state and local levels.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-ndma-issues-order-extending-lockdown/article31341847.ece



 1.      U.S. approves sale of missiles, torpedoes to India


—The U.S. State Department has approved two potential missile deals with India, for an estimated $92 million and $63 million, the State Department has said in a statement.

—The first deal, for which Boeing is the contractor, is for ten AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air launched missiles and related equipment. These missiles can be fitted onto Boeing’s 8-PI (Poseidon Eight India) maritime patrol aircraft and are intended to enhance India’s capability in anti-surface warfare while defending its sea lanes.

—The second deal, for $63 million and principally contracted with Raytheon Integrated Defense System, is for 16 MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes (LWT); three MK 54 Exercise Torpedoes (MK 54 LWT Kit procurement required); and related equipment.

—Also included are MK 54 spare parts; torpedo containers; two Recoverable Exercise Torpedoes (REXTORP) with containers and related equipment and support from the U.S. government and contractors.

The torpedoes are expected to enhance India’s anti-submarine warfare capability and can be used with the P-8I.

—There are no known offset agreements for both deals, the State Department said, and any offset agreements will be defined in negotiations between India and the contractors.

—The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification to the U.S. Congress, notifying it of the possible sale.

—As per the U.S.’s Arms Export Control Act, Congress has 30 days to raise objections to the sale in the case of India.






1. Western U.P. farmers facing more than just COVID-19


—Despite repeated government assurances, farmers in western Uttar Pradesh are struggling to come to terms with the nationwide lockdown.

—Some are short of labour, some are waiting for the government to buy their produce and others are grappling with “forced social distancing”.


MGNREGA workers

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Dharmendra Malik said the government should allow the MGNREGA workers to help in harvesting to overcome the paucity of labour.

About Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act 2005

—it is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work'. This act was passed in September 2005.

About Bharatiya Kisan Union (Indian Farmers' Union)

— is a non-partisan farmer's representative organisation in India. It was founded by Chaudhary Charan Singh from the Punjab Khetibari Union (Punjab Farming Union) which became its Punjab branch. The western Uttar Pradesh branch of the union was founded in 17 October 1986 by Mahendra Singh Tikait. The union is affiliated to the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee and Via Campesina.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/western-up-farmers-facing-more-than-just-covid-19/article31342416.ece


2. Parekh for easing 90-day NPA deadline norm


—HDFC Ltd. chairman Deepak Parekh has suggested a relaxation in non-performing assets (NPA) classification to a period of six months.

—Instead of 90 days, a loan should be classified as NPA if repayment is due for 180 days, he said, speaking at a knowledge series webinar organised jointly by real estate industry bodies NAREDCO and CREDAI.


About NPA

— A non-performing loan (NPL) is a loan that is in default or close to being in default. Many loans become non-performing after being in default for 90 days, but this can depend on the contract terms.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/parekh-for-easing-90-day-npa-deadline-norm/article31341786.ece


3. NFL ensuring unhindered supply of urea


—Centre said state owned National Fertilizers Ltd. (NFL) is working at over 100% capacity and ensuring unhindered supply of urea to farmers during the lock­ down, now extended till May 3, to prevent the spread of COVID­19.


About NFL

—National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) – Miniratna (Cat-1) company is an India state owned producer of chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers and industrial chemicals. As of 2018, it was the second largest producer of fertilizers in India.

—NFL, incorporated in 1979 is India's largest Central Public Sector Enterprise (Government of India Undertaking) in Fertilizer Sector with a turnover of over Rs. 75 billion.

—Coming under the administrative control of Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, it is the second largest producer of the key fertiliser urea in India.

—NFL has five gas-based ammonia-urea plants viz. Nangal and Bathinda in Punjab, Panipat in Haryana and two at Vijaipur (Madhya Pradesh).


4. Centre may raise loan to pay shortfall of GST compensation amount to States


-The Union government is exploring raising a loan to pay the shortfall of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation amount to States as the latter have had to ramp up spending to combat the outbreak of COVID-19.

-The idea has been circulated and since the GST Act prohibits withdrawal of funds from the Consolidated Fund, raising loans is being seen as a way out.

-There were concerns over what if cess accruals were not adequate to pay the shortfall. The government of India was adamant in resisting suggestions to pay the shortfall from the Consolidated Fund of India and at that point, the option of raising a loan on the cess account was discussed and agreed as an option, and the loan accrued would be paid from cess accruals in the future.

-For December 2019 and January 2020, the Central government owes around ₹30,000-35,000 crores as compensation and around ₹30,000 crores for February and March. The government had last week released ₹14,103 crores to States as the second tranche of compensation for October and November 2019. It paid ₹19,950 crores in February for these two months.


GST Council:

-GST Council is an apex member committee to modify, reconcile or to procure any law or regulation based on the context of goods and services tax in India. The council is headed by the union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman assisted with the finance minister of all the states of India.

-The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is governed by the GST Council. Article 279 (1) of the amended Indian Constitution states that the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of the Article 279A.

-According to the article, GST Council will be a joint forum for the Centre and the States. It consists of the following members:

--The Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley will be the Chairperson

--As a member, the Union Minister of State will be in charge of Revenue of Finance

--The Minister in charge of finance or taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State government, as members.



5. Retail inflation eases to 5.91%


-Retail inflation dropped to 5.91% in March from the 6.58% in February, mostly on a drop in food prices, according to the Consumer Price Index data released by the National Statistical Office.

-Food inflation fell to 8.76% in March, in comparison with the 10.81% in February. Vegetable price inflation saw the sharpest fall, dropping from 32% to 19% over the course of a month. Spices and prepared food, snacks and sweets were the only food categories that saw a slight increase in prices.

-Retail inflation has been easing off since hitting an almost six-year high of 7.59% in January, and analysts expect the trend to continue over the next few months.

-With low crude oil prices and sharp slowdown in the economy, CPI inflation is expected to fall further

-Weak demand side pressure on inflation would outweigh any supply side bottlenecks in the near-term. The COVID-19 crisis has also affected field data collection used to calculate inflation, although the NSO said the overall impact of missing price data on CPI estimates was within acceptable limits.

-Price data is usually collected from selected 1,114 urban markets and selected 1,181 villages by the Field Operations Division of NSO in a uniform weekly roster.


Consumer Price Index (CPI):

-The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food, and medical care. It is calculated by taking price changes for each item in the predetermined basket of goods and averaging them. Changes in the CPI are used to assess price changes associated with the cost of living. The CPI is one of the most frequently used statistics for identifying periods of inflation or deflation.

-The Consumer Price Index measures the average change in prices over time that consumers pay for a basket of goods and services.

-CPI is the most widely used measure of inflation and, by proxy, of the effectiveness of the government’s economic policy.

-The CPI statistics cover professionals, self-employed, poor, unemployed and retired people in the country but excludes non-metro or rural populations, farm families, armed forces, people serving in prison and those in mental hospitals.

-CPI-W measures the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers while the -CPI-U is the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers.






1. Sanofi, GSK partner for COVID-19 shot


—Sanofi and GSK have signed a letter of intent to develop an adjuvanted vaccine for COVID-19.

Sanofi will contribute its S-protein COVID-19 antigen, which is based on recombinant DNA technology.

—This technology has produced an exact genetic match to proteins found on the surface of the virus, and the DNA sequence encoding this antigen has been combined into the DNA of the baculovirus expression platform, the basis of Sanofi’s licensed recombinant influenza product in the U.S.

—GSK will contribute its proven pandemic adjuvant technology, which can reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and therefore contributing to protect more people.

—The companies plan to initiate phase I clinical trials in the second half of 2020 and, if successful, subject to regulatory considerations, aim to complete the development required for availability by the second half of 2021.

—The companies have entered into a Material Transfer Agreement to enable them to start working together immediately.


Reference; https://www.thehindu.com/business/sanofi-gsk-partner-for-covid-19-shot/article31341836.ece


2. Criminals use COVID-19 for phishing: KPMG


—COVID-19 pandemic has people worried, and with that concern comes an urgent need to keep data safe and secured. Organised crime gangs are exploiting this fear, uncertainty and doubts to target individuals and businesses in myriads of ways.

—Many existing organised crime groups have changed their tactics to use COVID-19 related materials on health updates, fake cures, fiscal packages, emergency benefits and supply shortages.

—KPMG cited the examples of campaigns, including COVID-19-themed phishing e-mails, attaching malicious Microsoft documents, which exploit a known Microsoft vulnerability to run malicious code. —These documents contained health information, which triggered the download of Emotet or Trickbot malware.

—They include multiple phishing emails luring the target users to fake copies of the U.S.’ Centre for Disease Control (CDC) website which solicit user credentials and passwords.

—KPMG recommends that the response to these could include some steps to reduce the risk to an organisation and its employees, particularly as companies shift to remote working. It also suggests raising awareness amongst the team warning them of the heightened risk of COVID-19-themed phishing attacks.

—KPMG further advised to run a helpline or online chat line, which they can easily access for advice or report any security concerns, including potential phishing. Encrypt data at rest on laptops used for remote working given the risk of theft. Also, disable USB drives to avoid the risk of malware, and offer employees an alternate way of transferring data such as a collaboration tool.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/criminals-use-covid-19-for-phishing-kpmg/article31341679.ece