16 May Current Affairs
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May 19, 2020
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18 May Current Affairs

United Nations releases World Economic Situation and Prospects Report, 2020

In News:

The United Nations recently released the World Economic Situation and Prospects Report, 2020. According to the report, the world economy is to shrink by 3.2% in 2020. The GDP growth in developed countries will decline to -0.5% in 2020.

Highlights: India

The report says that the growth rate of India in 2018 was 6.8% and in 2019 it was 4.1%. It will reduce to 1.2% in 2020. The report predicts that the growth of India will raise eventually in 2021 hitting 5.5%

Highlights: World

The Global economy is to gradually recover by 2021. The world economy will lose around 8.5 trillion USD due to COVID-19. Also, the global economy is to shrink by 4.9% in 2020. Around 34.3 million people are to enter below poverty line by 2020.

Also, the report say that several governments are rolling out uneven fiscal stimulus measures that are roughly equal to 10% of their GDP to minimize the crisis created by COVID-19 outbreak.

Solutions suggested

The report has suggested following solutions to combat COVID-19

The COVID-19 is disturbing fundamental premise of globalization. Therefore, stronger international cooperation is required to contain the virus

More liquidity should be pumped into the economies

The International Tourism should be given focus. Around 80% of the tourism has become idle rendering millions jobless.

COBAS 6800: India’s first automated COVID-19 testing machine

In News:

On May 14, 2020, the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan dedicated the COBAS 6800 RT PCR machine to the nation.


The machine is completely automated and performs high end RT-PCR tests. The machine will help to increase the testing capacity of the country. It has been placed at National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi. The machine can also detect pathogens such as Hepatitis, Chlamydia, HIV, Papiloma, MTb, Chlamydia, CMV, Neisseria, etc.

The machine will provide high volume tests. It is capable of providing test results of 1,200 samples in 24 hours. Thus, the machine will help in increasing the testing capacity of the country.

The machine is enabled with robotics. It will help minimize contamination as it involves very little human intervention. It is the first machine in India that is completely automatic.

Why is it placed in NCDC?

The machine has been placed in NCDC as it requires Basic Safety Level 2 testing facilities. There are 4 Bio-Safety levels that are followed in the country.

The Biosafety level 2 are enforced in those laboratories that work with agents that are associated with human disease. These laboratories should have appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), gloves, sink, eye wash. Bio hazard warning signs, self-lockable doors, etc.


The machine was developed by Roche Diagnostics. The main objective of developing the machine is to increase testing capacity of India. So far India is using the rapid antibody test kits only for surveillance. RT-PCR tests are being used to confirm COVID-19 infection as it is more accurate.

However, RT-PCR takes minimum of 5 to 6 hours to produce results. Therefore, it becomes important to bring more such machines in the country to increase testing capacity of India.

ENAM succeeds touching milestone of 1000 Mandis

In News:

The ENAM initiative is spread across 18 states and three union territories currently. The Government of India recently added 38 Mandi to the initiative and has reached its set target of 1000 Mandis.


Recently, the Government of India linked 200 Mandis to ENAM and another 117 in a short duration after this. Adding 38 more Mandis to the network, ENAM has achieved its set target of integrating 1000 mandis. Out of these 38 mandis, 19 were from Madhya Pradesh, four from Maharashtra, 10 from Telangana and one each from Haryana, Gujarat, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala.

What was the target?

The GoI had set a target of linking 1000 Mandis to the ENAM platform in April 2020. This was set up to help farmers during the lock down period. This target has now been achieved.


The ENAM initiative was launched in 2016. The scheme aimed to network all the mandis under the platform called “One Nation One Market”. The platform also aims to reduce transaction costs and help in expansion of market access to farmers. So far 1.66 crore farmers and 1,31,000 traders are registered under ENAM platform.

Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana to be launched by Chhattisgarh

In News:

The Chhattisgarh State Government is to launch the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana. The scheme is to be launched on May 21, 2020. The scheme is being launched to commemorate the death anniversary of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.


The scheme will infuse Rs 5,100 crores into the rural economy of the state. This is to be done through Direct Benefit Transfer. The provisions for the scheme was made during the State Budget 2020-21.


Under the scheme, the farmers are to be paid Rs 10,000 per acre for the crops such as sugarcane, corn and paddy. The scheme will benefit more than 1.87 million farmers. The funds are to be transferred to the farmers based on the registered and notified areas for oilseeds and pulses

Other States:

It is to be noted that Telangana became the first state to tell the farmers what to grow. And through this, the state government has reduced the paddy growing to 50 lakh acres. Also, it will prioritize the other required food grains based on the requirement of the state.

Vocal for Local:

These schemes will make the states self-sufficient and will aid in the Vocal for Local that is to be implemented in the country. The COVID-19 crisis has very well shown the importance of local produce. This boosts the income of the farmers and also makes the essential goods available in affordable prices.

World Bank approves 1 billion USD to India

In News:

On May 15, 2020, the World Bank approved 1 billion USD aid to India to accelerate “India’s COVID-19 Special Protection Response Programme”. The fund will be used to provide social assistance to poor, severely impacted and vulnerable households.


Of the 1 billion USD aid, around 550 million USD is to be credited by the IDA (International Development Association) and 220 million USD by the IBRD (International Bank of Reconstruction and Development). The final maturity amount of the loan is 18.5 years. It also includes a grace period of five years.

With this financial aid, the total commitment of World Bank towards India has increased to 2 billion USD. In April 2020, the World Bank announced 1 billion USD support to aid the health sector of India.

What is the plan?

The World Bank will partner with India in three areas namely, health, social protection and MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises).

Other aids:

India has also received financial aids from AIIB (Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank), ADB (Asian Development Bank).

International Day of Light

In News:

Every year, on May 16, International Day of Light is celebrated by UNESCO. The day is being celebrated to mark the first successful operation of LASER in 1960. The first successful LASER operation was done by an engineer and physicist Theodore Maiman.


The day celebrates the role of light in art, culture, science, sustainable development and education. The day is administered by International Basic Science Programme that is conducted by UNESCO.

International Basic Science Programme:

The Programme was established by UNESCO and its member states to reinforce intergovernmental cooperation between partner organizations to strengthen national capacities in basic sciences.


The International Day of Light day aims to improve the public understanding of how light and light based technologies help in development of future society. It also signifies the fact that technology help in playing greater role in saving energy and therefore, lighting technologies need to be protected.

AIIB sanctions 145 million USD loan for Major Irrigation Project of West Bengal

In News:

On May 15, 2020, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank approves a loan of 145 million USD to improve irrigation facilities and flood management West Bengal


The project is to focus on the Damodar Valley of West Bengal. It will benefit more than 2.7 million farmers spread across five districts of West Bengal. The total value of the project is 413.8 million USD. Apart from the AIIB, the project is also co-financed by IBRD (International Bank of Reconstruction and Development).

The IBRD and the IDA (International Development Association) together constitute the World Bank. Though there are other major partners of the world bank, these two have role in terms of decision making and approving grants.

Damodar River:

The river flows across the states of Jharkhand and West Bengal. The river is called “Sorrow of Bengal”. The river got the name as if ravages floods in the plains of Bengal. Some of the major tributaries of Damodar river include Haharo, Barakar, Bokaro, Konar, Ghari, Jamunia, Khadia, Guaia and Bhera.

The river flows through Chhota Nagpur Plateau

Chhota Nagpur Plateau:

It is a plateau in the eastern India. It covers the state of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. The Palamau Tiger Reserve and Sanjay National Park lies in the plateau. Around 6% of the plateaus lie in the protected area zone.

The plateau is the major store house of minerals such as limestone, iron ore, copper, bauxite, mica and coal.

“Goal Programme” launched for Tribal Youth

In News:

The Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, Arjun Munda launched “GOAL Programme”. GOAL Programme is Going Online As Leaders. The programme has been launched in partnership with Facebook.


The programme is being launched to provide mentorship to the tribal youth in digital mode. This will act as catalyst to bring out more hidden talents of tribal youth. Also, it will help in their personal development.


The programme will help to empower more than 5,000 tribal youths. The programme has been framed with long term missions. It will help to develop the potential of tribal youth and women. Also, it helps them acquire knowledge and skills through mentorship in food processing, horticulture, bee keeping, medicinal herbs, etc.


The Ministry has also opened a portal called goal.tribal.gov.in to invite applications from aspiring candidates. The mentors and mentees have to register on the portal that will be open between May and July, 2020.

About the Programme:

The programme will focus on three areas such as Life skills, digital literacy and Leadership and Entrepreneurship on sectors such as agriculture, handicrafts and textiles, art and culture, nutrition, etc.

Other Efforts:

Along with the programme, GoI is planning to merge Start Up India, Mudra Yojana, Kaushal Vikas Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana. This will help increase the beneficiaries. Also, it will fast track the reach of the programme. It will also help to extend the programme to other areas other than sports.