IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


25th March, 2020


Amid lockdown, foreign embassies worry about stranded tourists

Actions of Foreign embassies:

-       Germany is hoping to fly out the first batch of an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 tourists.

Challenges for embassies:

-       There is large number of foreign tourists. Many of them are individual tourists.

-       Some are travelling in remote mountains.

-       Diplomatic missions are dealing with twin challenges of keeping staff safe while ensuring their nationals are able to return given the ban on commercial flights.

-       Harassment and discrimination against foreign nationals.

-       Citizens had been denied rooms at hotels when they arrived in Delhi, over fears they might carry the virus.

Government approach:

-       The government has also been coordinating with missions so that flights coming in to evacuate foreigners can bring in Indians stranded in their home countries as in the case of a KLM flight from Amsterdam and an Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur. 

-       Government announced last week that it would extend all visas for foreign nationals until April 15.

-       Government has said that it will “facilitate requests for special flights by resident missions on a case by case basis.”

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/amid-lockdown-foreign-embassies-worry-about-stranded-tourists/article31158250.ece

‘Loss of smell in some cases’

Symptom of Covid-19:

-       Anosmia — the abrupt loss of smell — and have said this could be a sign of COVID-19 in people who otherwise appear well.

-       Around 40% of cases of sudden loss of smell in adults are caused by post-viral anosmia.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/loss-of-smell-in-some-cases/article31158205.ece

As COVID-19 toll touches 10, PM announces 21-day lockdown

PM announcement:

-       21-day lockdown for the entire country, stating that it was the only way for the country to break the chain of infection. 

-       The pandemic was a huge challenge to every country.

-       Countries like the U.S. and Italy, considered to have good health infrastructure, were struggling to control the situation.

-       Lockdown for a sustained period of time is the only way to break the chain of infection.

-       Government had allotted Rs. 15,000 crores for the purchase of Personnel Protection Equipment for healthcare workers, setting up testing laboratories and quarantine centers.



Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/pm-announces-21-day-lockdown-as-covid-19-toll-touches-10/article31158331.ece

Made in India testing kits

Pune-based MyLab has become the first indigenous manufacturer to be approved for deploying its kits for COVID-19 testing.

About testing kit:

-       It is called reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.

-       The testing kit has been commercially approved by the Indian FDA / Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

-       RT-PCR kits can study 1000 samples from large labs and 200 from smaller labs.

-       COVID- 19 kit has been made as per WHO/CDC guidelines. It was developed in a record time.

Guidelines for testing kit:

-       Only diagnostic kits that have been approved by the United States Food and Drugs Administration or certified by the European Union be allowed to offer commercial tests for detecting SARS-CoV-2.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/made-in-india-testing-kits/article31158317.ece

States must facilitate media outlets to fight fake news: govt.

Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry order:

-       Issued directions to all State governments to facilitate functioning of all print and electronic media outlets.

-       Proper functioning of the media network is essential to create awareness among people, to disseminate important messages and also keep the nation updated on the latest status. 

-       False and fake news need to be avoided.

-       Good practices need to be promoted.

-       These networks play a pivotal role in ensuring the same.

-       Urged the State governments to facilitate “smooth supply and distribution chain”.

Facilitated provisions:

-       The movement of the accredited staff of service providers be permitted;

-       The movement of vehicles carrying media persons and others including provisioning of fuel may kindly be facilitated.

-       The media facilities should be permitted to be manned by the staff of the service providers.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/states-must-facilitate-media-outlets-to-fight-fake-news-govt/article31158214.ece


How safe are newspapers: WHO clarifies

WHO findings:

-       The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low.

-       The risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is low.

About WHO:

- Its primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system.

- Its main areas of work are health systems; health through the life-course; non-communicable and communicable diseases; preparedness, surveillance and response; and corporate services.

-  The World Health Assembly is attended by delegations from all Member States and determines the policies of the Organization.

-  The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with world public health.

- The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/how-safe-are-newspapers-who-clarifies/article31158209.ece

Doctors cautious over use of malaria drug as virus preventive


Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approved the use of hydroxychloroquine as prophylaxis by healthcare workers taking care of COVID-19 cases and asymptomatic household contacts of confirmed cases.

Caution of ICMR:

-       It is still at an experimental stage and is not recommended for public use.

-       The recommendation is for empirical use of the drug based on available evidence.

-       It is restricted for use by only two categories of people and under strict supervision of a doctor.

-       The available evidence of the efficacy of the drug is a small study by French researchers involving 26 COVID-19 patients.

-       Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci has said o usage of drug that “The answer is ‘no’ as it is [based on] anecdotal evidence.

About Hydroxychloroquine drug:

-       It is an antimalarial drug that is also used for treating rheumatoid arthritis. 

About ICMR:

-       The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world.

-       The ICMR is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

-       The governing body of the council is presided over by the Union Health Minister.

-       It is assisted in scientific and technical matters by a scientific advisory board comprising eminent experts in different biomedical disciplines.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/doctors-cautious-over-use-of-malaria-drug-as-virus-preventive/article31158219.ece


NGT asks committee to study damage done to environment by dump sites

NGT order:

-       Directed a committee comprising of representative from the Central Pollution Control Board and IIT Delhi, to carry out a study to assess the amount of damage caused to the environment due to the dump sites in Delhi.

-       Necessary to determine such cost for delay in clearing legacy waste at every dumpsite.

-       Needs to determine cost for delay in complying with other rules and failure to treat sewage.

-       Required to recover the same from persons responsible for action in the matter.

-       Directed to set up an integrated Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for scientific management, processing and disposal of legacy waste dumpsites at Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla.

-       Warned of coercive action against the entire administrative chain at each civic body and other officials responsible for management and supervision, in case of non-compliance of orders.

About NGT:

-       National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India, which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.


-       The Principal Bench of the NGT is in New Delhi.

-       It has regional benches in Pune (West), Bhopal (Central), Chennai (South) and Kolkata (East).

-       Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction in a region.

-       The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, head quartered in New Delhi. Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts.

-       Each bench of the NGT will comprise at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.

-       The Tribunal has powers to review its own decisions. If this fails, the decision can be challenged before the Supreme Court within ninety days.

-       It does not take complaints pertaining to Wildlife Protection Act.


-       Effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection

-       Conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment

-       Giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

-       The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.

-       The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/ngt-asks-committee-to-study-damage-done-to-environment-by-dump-sites/article31158892.ece


Government extends tax deadlines to June 30

Government decisions:

-       For bigger companies, only interest would be charged at the reduced rate of 9%.

-       The date for filing annual GST returns for 2018-19 has also been extended to the last week of June.

-       Deadlines for the Vivaad se Vishwas and SabkaVishwas schemes for defaulting taxpayers are also being extended.

-       Decided to raise the threshold of default under Section 4 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1 crores in order to prevent triggering of insolvency proceedings against Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

-       If the current situation continues beyond April 30, we may consider suspending Sections 7, 9, 10 of the IBC for a period of 6 months to stop companies at large from being forced into insolvency proceedings in such force majeure cases of default.

-       Customs clearance operations would run around the clock, all seven days of the week, till the end of June.

-       For fisheries imports, the validity of sanitary permits were being extended, while other requirements were being relaxed.

-       Statutory corporate requirements are also being relaxed at this time, including filings in the MCA-21 registry, mandatory board meetings, residency requirements for independent directors and deposit reserve requirements.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/government-extends-tax-deadlines-to-june-30/article31158233.ece

Labour Minister urges CMs to pay workers directly

Minister’s comment:

-       Asked CM to directly release funds into the accounts of construction workers using the cess collected by their respective Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Boards.

-       About 3.5 crores construction workers were registered with the State boards

-       About Rs.52, 000 crores were available to the boards in the form of cess collected over the years.

-       The financial assistance at this point of time would help to mitigate the financial crisis of our construction workers to some extent and boost their morale to deal with this epidemic.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/labour-minister-urges-cms-to-pay-workers-directly/article31158242.ece

Traders hail Centre’s relief measures

Traders comment:

-       Appreciated the extension of various statutory compliances such as filing of income tax, GST and other Acts.

-        It would help to withdraw interest for the extended period instead of lowering the rate of interest.

Further demands:

-       Extension of the current financial year up till June 30,

-       Extension in repayment of bank loans, EMIs and other banking obligations till September 30, with a waiver on interest or penalty for the extended period.

-       Deferring of payment on all government utility bills such as electricity, water, property tax. 

-       The government should bear the employee’s share of the provident fund for six months.

-       Extension of a corona cash loan at reduced rates of interest to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain.

-       Demanded a subsidy to traders for paying wages to their workers for the duration of the lockdown. 

-       Appealed for the enhanced use of digital transactions with removal of bank charges.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/traders-hail-centres-relief-measures/article31158887.ece