20 May Current Affairs
May 20, 2020
22 May Current Affairs
May 22, 2020
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21 May Current Affairs

Rare Palm from Andaman replanted in Kerala: To prevent its Extinction

In News:

A rare palm from South Andaman Island has found its second home in Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) Kerala. The species has been brought to the Indian mainland to prevent its extinction.


The rare palm is called Pinanga andamanensis and is a critically endangered species. There are only 600 specimens of the species at present. It is tiny and generally grows in evergreen forests.

The JNTBGRI has ensured to conserve the germplasm of the tree. This will help to prevent the species from wiping out. It is endangered due to natural calamity.

The palm resembles areca palm and is used in preparing palm oil.

About the palm:

The palm requires 5 t 6 hours of sunshine, 80% of humidity. It thrives well in areas where the temperature is between 22 degree Celsius and 24 degree Celsius.

The name of the palm is derived from the modern Malaysian state called ‘Penang’. The species was thought to be extinct till 1992.

What is Germplasm?

Germplasm is the living resources like tissue and seeds that are preserved for plant breeding. They can also be used are genetic resources.

Cabinet meets to approve several initiatives under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan

In News:

The union cabinet approved several initiatives under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan that was launched by PM Modi recently.


The Union Cabinet has approved allocation of food grains, adoption of auction methodology for coal, issuance of second order to Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana, Scheme to formalize Micro Food Processing Enterprises and Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme

Allocation of Food Grains:

The Union Cabinet has given its nod to allocate food grains from the central pool to over 8 crore migrants. The migrants are to be provided with 5 kg of food grains per person per month. This is to be done under Public Distribution System. The National Food Security Act has empowered the GoI to take such a step.

The migrants are to be provided food grains under the system for the months of May and June. This is considered as an immediate relief measure for the migrants as the “One Nation One Card” scheme is to be implemented in June, 2020 end.

The GoI has allocated Rs 2,982 crores to implement the scheme.

Coal Auction:

The Fianance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced the coal auctioning method while announcing the economic package of Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. This has been approved by the Union Cabinet.

This method has shifted from maximum revenue from coal to maximum coal availability in the market. It has moved towards market oriented revenue sharing from fixed rupees per tonne auction method.

Also, the new method allows adequate competition which will help in faster development of coal blocks.

The new method has also allowed exploitation of coal bed methane. The tenure of coking coal linkages has been increased to 30 years.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Second Order, 2020

According to the order, the domicile conditions to all level jobs in the state has been changed.

Emergency Credit Line Scheme:

Under the scheme, the Union Cabinet has approved additional funding of upto Rs 3 lakh crore to the eligible MSMEs. In order to achieve this, the GoI has allocated Rs 41,600 crores.

The Emergency Credit Line scheme was framed to respond to unprecedented situations as that of COVID-19. The scheme aims to provide incentive to Member Lending Institutions (MLIs), Non-Banking Financial Institutions, banks, financial institutions, etc.

Special Liquidity Scheme:

The Union Cabinet has approved the Special Liquidity Scheme for the Housing Finance Corporations and Non-Banking Finance Corporations in order to increase the liquidity flow in the country. Under the scheme, a Special Purpose Vehicle is to be set up that will manage the stressed asset funds. The special securities of these assets are to be bought by the GoI and RBI. They will then use these securities to acquire short term debts.

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana:

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to implement measures under the scheme. The Scheme will bring upon blue revolution. It is to be implemented for a period of 5 years.

The scheme is centrally sponsored with estimated amount of Rs 20, 050 crores. It aims at enhancing productivity of fish, infrastructure and regulatory framework.

Prdhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana:

Under the approval, the scheme is to be extended till March 2023. The minimum investment of the scheme has been revised to Rs 1,56,658 for the pension amount of Rs 12,000 per annum and Rs 1,62,162 for pension amount of Rs 1000 per month.

Micro Food Processing:

The Union Cabinet has approved the Scheme for Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises. The GoI has allocated Rs 10,000 crores under the scheme. The expenditure of the state is to be shared between centre and states in the ratio of 60:40.

The scheme aims to increase the access of finances to the micro food processing industries. It will encourage waste to wealth activities. It will also focus on minor forest produce in tribal districts.

Beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat touches 1 crore

In News:

The number of beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat touched 1 crore. PM Modi had a telephonic conversation with the 1 croreth beneficiary of the scheme.


Post COVID-19, the Government of India made the testing and treatment of the disease free under Ayushman Bharat. The testing of COVID-19 is being carried out according to the protocols fixed by ICMR.

The testing facilities that are authorized by the ICMR were tied up with Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. This was done in April 2020. Through this, the GoI is now offering free testing facilities to the beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat registrants.

Ayushman Bharat:

The Ayushman Bharat Scheme was launched in 2018. It was earlier known as National Health Protection Scheme. The scheme provides an insurance cover of Ts 5 lakh per annum per family. The eligible families under the scheme are fixed based on the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC).


According to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), around 82% of urban households and 86% of rural households do not have health care insurance. Almost 17% of Indian households spend one-tenth of their budget on health services.

Therefore, to address these issues the GoI launched the Ayushman Bharat Mission under National Health Policy, 2017.

National Crisis Management Committee meets to review AMPHAN preparedness

In News:

The AMPHAN Super Cyclone is expected to reach West Bengal by May 20, 2020. The wind speeds are expected to be between 155 km/hr and 165 km/hr. In order to review the preparatory measures, the National Crisis Management Committee met under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary.

National Crisis Management Committee:

The National Crisis Management Committee oversees the command, coordination and control of disaster response. It gives direction to the Crisis Management Group as when necessary.

Functions of the Committee:

The National Crisis Management Committee reviews the measures required to deal with natural calamity. It coordinates the activities of the state governments and central ministries in relation to disaster preparedness.

Upon constitution of National Crisis Management Committee, the Agriculture secretary seeks directions and provides information in all matters.


Between 1965 and 2017, around 46 severe cyclonic storms have hit Bay of Bengal. Cyclone Phailin that hit in 2013 and super cyclone of 1999 are the cyclones that affected the coasts of Odisha badly. In 2019, Cyclone Fani made landfall in Odisha that claimed lives of 40 people.

COVID-19: ICMR Clinical Trials on BCG Vaccine

In News:

The Indian Council of Medical Research is conducting clinical trials to check on the efficacy of Tuberculosis vaccines against COVID-19.


The ICMR is to focus on vaccine potential of India in reducing death of COVID-19 infected patients. The trials that will find out the efficacy of BCG Vaccine in COVID-19 patients is to be conducted in conjunction with National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis.

BCG Vaccine:

The BCG vaccine is Bacillus Calmette-Guerin. It is a vaccine that uses live attenuated stain of Mycobacterium Bovis. Meaning, the potency of the pathogen is disabled artificially and the characters are retained.

National BCG Vaccination Policy:

India is currently following National BCG Vaccination Policy. According to the National Family Health Survey, around 91.9% of children in the age group of 12 to 23 months are receiving the vaccine. The survey also says that India has the capacity of producing 2,800 lakh BCG Vaccine doses in a year.


The researchers of Biomedical sciences of New York Institute of Technology have reported that the countries administered BCG Vaccine Programme has less incidents of COVID-19 as compared to countries that did not administer the programme.

Federation of Indian Export Organization: Indian Exports to fall by 20%

In News:

The Federation of Indian Export Organization reported that the Indian Exports are to fall by 20%. This according to the organization will amount to 50-60 billion USD.


The FIEO, the apex body of the exporters has requested to provide additional 2% support under the MEIS (Merchandise Exported from India) scheme. Also, the organization has requested additional 4% support to labour intensive sectors.

The support is being demanded as incentives. The incentives to be provided in the form of duty credit.

MEIS Scheme:

The MEIS scheme was introduced under Foreign Trade Policy of India. The scheme focuses to make the Indian products competitive in the Global market. The MEIS scheme replaced Focus Product Scheme (FPS), Focus Market Scheme (FMS), Infrastructure Incentive scheme and Vishesh Krishi Gramin Upaj Yojana.

Federation of Indian Export Organization:

The FIEO was set up under Ministry of Commerce. It is the premier body of Export Promotion Council. The Organization provides an interface between international trading community and central and state governments in the country.

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