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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

28 Mar 2020


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After PM Boris Johnson, UK Health Minister Tests Positive For Covid-19

  •  British Health Secretary Matt Hancock became the second high-ranking UK government member to confirm his Covid-19 diagnosis, soon after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.
  • Matt Hancock, like Boris Johnson, said he has mild symptoms of the disease and has been working from home for the past few days in line with the UK government lockdown advice for people to stay at home as part of efforts to try and control the spread of the pandemic.

JICA, Govt Sign Rs 15,295-Cr Loan Pacts For Major Rail Projects For Public, Freight Transport

  •  Japanese government funding agency JICA has signed agreements totalling Rs 15,295 crore with the Indian government for three mega rail infrastructure projects.
  • Under these agreements, JICA has granted Rs 8,553 crore for phase-1 of the Dedicated Freight Corridor; Rs 4,262 crore for Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Project (II) and Rs 2,480 crore for the Mumbai Metro Line 3 Project (III).
  • JICA said the Rs 8,553-crore loan for the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project (Phase 1) comes with the objective to cope up with the increase in freight transport demand in India by constructing new dedicated freight railway system between Delhi and Mumbai.
  • It will promote comprehensive regional   economic development along the freight corridor as the backbone of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) development plan, said the funding agency that provides long-term low-cost loans for development projects to various countries.
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Forex Reserves Fall By $12 Bn, The Most Since 2008 Global Financial Crisis

  •  In 2020, the country's foreign exchange reserves fell by a whopping USD 11.98 billion to USD 469.909 billion in the week to March 20 as the Reserve Bank continued to supply dollars into the market to stem fall in the rupee.  The rupee hit an all-time low of 76.15 against the US dollar on March 23 as foreign investors continued to withdraw money from domestic equity and debt market amid uncertainties due to the fast-spreading coronavirus.  In the previous week, the country's foreign exchange reserves fell by USD 5.346 billion to USD 481.89 billion. This was the first decline in the country's reserves in almost six months. Forex reserves had dipped by $15 billion during the week ended 24 October, 2008.
  • The reserves had touched a life-time high of USD 487.23 billion in the week to March 6, after it rose by USD 5.69 billion.

Moody's Cuts India GDP Growth To 2.5% From 5.3% In 2020

  •  Moody's Investors Service has slashed its estimate of India's economic growth forecast to 2.5% during 2020 calendar year from an earlier estimate of 5.3% amid the rising economic cost of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Moody's said it expects the growth to bounce back to 5.8% in the calendar year in 2021 and expects a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of negative 0.5% in CY20 at the global level, before bouncing back in CY21.

GDP Likely To Grow Just 2% in 2020-21: ICRA

  •  Despite the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) massive actions to spur the economy, India's gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to contract by 4.5 per cent in the April-June 2020 quarter and will rise by only 2 per cent in 2020-21 on the coronavirus impact, according to domestic rating agency ICRA.
  • While announcing a number of measures in the policy review, the RBI refrained from giving its estimate on both growth and inflation, saying things are fluid and rapidly changing.
  • The Indian economy was already supposed to clock a decadal low growth of 5 per cent in 2019-20, according to official estimates, and the coronavirus-related worries have only compounded the problems.
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Facebook Launches Messenger Chatbot To Counter Fake News

  •  Facebook has launched Messenger Chatbot to share information about coronavirus, as part of efforts to help people access authentic information about the pandemic, and counter fake news. "Together with the Ministry of Health and MyGov, Facebook has facilitated Corona Helpdesk Chatbot on Messenger to raise awareness, provide authentic and accurate information and bust fake news about coronavirus.
  • Facebook users can start accessing the Corona Helpdesk Chatbot and reach out to the Ministry of Health for authentic news, official updates, precautionary measures and emergency helpline numbers through this chatbot.
  • The chatbot comes with English and Hindi language capabilities. To contact the chatbot, users can go to the Facebook page on MyGov Corona Hub and then start a chat by typing 'Get Started', which will prompt them to either type in a query or choose from a list of frequently asked questions.

US Space Force Launches First Mission

  •  The United States Space Force launched its first national security mission on March 26, 2020 sending an ultra-secure military communication satellite into orbit even as the coronavirus pandemic paralyzes much of the country.
  • AEHF-6, as the satellite is called, is the sixth and final in the Lockheed Martin AEHF constellation.

China's Long March-5B Carrier Rocket Arrives At Launch Site

  •  China's Long March-5B carrier rocket arrived at the launch site in southern China's Hainan Province after a week of ocean and rail transport, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
  • The rocket will take part in a joint rehearsal with the prototype of the Chinese space station's core module at the Wenchang Space Launch Center. It is scheduled to make its maiden flight and launch the prototype of China's new manned spaceship in April, 2020.
  • The Long March-5B is a modified version of Long March-5 rocket and will be China's first 1.5-stage large carrier rocket, according to Wang Jue, chief commander of the Long March-5 rocket.
  • The rocket is 53.7 meters long, with a diameter of five meters and a liftoff weight of 849 tonnes. It uses pollution-free propellant including liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen and kerosene. It has a carrying capacity of more than 22 tonnes in low-Earth orbit. It has the largest carrying capacity in low-Earth orbit among all Chinese rockets.
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Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust Donates Rs 51 Crore To Combat COVID-19

  •  Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust donated Rs 51 crore to Maharashtra Chief Minister's Relief Fund to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Central and state governments are fully prepared to fight the coronavirus which has caused havoc all over the world. The ad hoc committee of the Trust has decided to pay Rs. 51 crore to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

Govt Exempts Procurement Agencies, Mandis, Farming Operations, Farm Workers From Lockdown Rules

  •  To ensure that farmers do not face problem in harvesting of rabi crops in the coming days, the Centre exempted mandis, procurement agencies, farm operations, agri machinery hiring centres as well as intra- and inter-state movement of farm implements from the lockdown rules.
  • The government has also exempted farm workers as well as manufacturing and packaging units of fertilisers, pesticides and seeds from the lockdown order, according to the latest directive issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
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Army Chief Launches Operation Namaste, Says Duty To Help Govt Fight Against COVID-19

  •  Launching Operation Namaste to combat the spread of COVID-19, Army Chief General MM Naravane said it was his force's duty to help the government in its fight against the pandemic.
  • The Indian Army has code-named its anti-COVID-19 operations as Operation Namaste and has, so far, established eight quarantine facilities across the country.
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Padma Vibhushan Awardee Satish Gujral Passes Away At 94

  •  Artist and architect Satish Gujral, renowned for his versatility across different mediums, has died. He was 94. 
  • Gujral, who was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, was an architect, painter, muralist, sculptor and graphic artist.

Chief Of Brahma Kumaris Dadi Janki Passes Away At 104

  •  Rajyogini Dadi Janki, the chief administrator of Brahmakumari spiritual organisation passed away in Mount Abu, Rajasthan. She was 104.  She breathed her last at the Global Hospital where she was admited.
  • Dadi Janki was running the international spiritual institution spanning across 140 countries. Millions of people are associated with this orgnisation and she was the guardian of 46 thousand sisters of the body. The orgnisation, which teaches Rajyoga meditation and teaching, is operating 8,000 service centers spreading over 100 countries.

Madonna Pays Tribute To Co-Star After Coronavirus Death

  •  Madonna has paid tribute to Mark Blum, a co-star in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan, after his death from coronavirus complications.
  • The US singer and actress remembered Blum, who played Gary Glass and died this week at the age of 69, as "funny, warm, loving and professional".
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World Theatre Day

  •  World Theatre Day (WTD) is an international observance celebrated on 27 March. It was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute.
  • World Theatre Day was initiated in 1962 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI). It is celebrated annually on 27 March by ITI Centres and the international theatre community. Various national and international theatre events are organized to mark this occasion. One of the most important of these is the circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message through which at the invitation of ITI, a figure of world stature shares his or her reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace. The first World Theatre Day International Message was written by Jean Cocteau (France) in 1962.
  • It was first in Helsinki, and then in Vienna at the 9th World Congress of the ITI in June 1961 that President Arvi Kivimaa proposed on behalf of the Finnish Centre of the International Theatre Institute that a World Theatre Day be instituted. The proposal, backed by the Scandinavian centres, was carried with acclamation.
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UP CM Constitutes ''Team-11'' To Beat Corona

  •  UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has set up "Team-11" comprising of as many inter-departmental committees to fight the coronavirus spread and its multi-lateral fallouts on multiple fronts ranging from ensuring medicare to victims to the supply of essentials and tackle long marches of jobless workers back home.
  • Each of the committees will be haded by a senior bureaucrat of the state while the the chief minister himself will be the head of the Team 11.

Govt Completes Stake Sale In Kamarajar Port For Rs 2,383 Crore

  •  The government completed strategic sale of Kamarajar Port Ltd to Chennai Port Trust where it sold 74.49% stake for Rs 2,383 crore.
  • Department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM) completed strategic disinvestment of GOI stake of 66.67% in Kamarajar Port Ltd in favour of Chennai Port Trust at a consideration of Rs 2,383 crore.
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CSIR Lab Working On Genome Sequencing Of Covid-19

  •  The Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular Molecular Biology (CCMB), which is one of the 38 research institutes under the Government of India's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is working on sequencing the whole genome of the Covid-19 virus taken from "isolates" from people who have tested positive.

WHO Launches Global Megatrial Of The Four Most Promising Coronavirus Treatments

  •  World Health Organization (WHO) announced a large global trial, called SOLIDARITY, to find out whether any can treat infections with the new coronavirus for the dangerous respiratory disease. It's an unprecedented effort—an all-out, coordinated push to collect robust scientific data rapidly during a pandemic. The study, which could include many thousands of patients in dozens of countries, has been designed to be as simple as possible so that even hospitals overwhelmed by an onslaught of COVID-19 patients can participate.
  • With about 15% of COVID-19 patients suffering from severe disease and hospitals being overwhelmed, treatments are desperately needed. So rather than coming up with compounds from scratch that may take years to develop and test, researchers and public health agencies are looking to repurpose drugs already approved for other diseases and known to be largely safe.
  • They're also looking at unapproved drugs that have performed well in animal studies with the other two deadly coronaviruses, which cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh Hospital Tests Serving Robot

  •  The Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Government Hospital in Jaipur is conducting a series of trials on a humanoid robot to check if could be pressed into service for delivering medicines and food to the COVID-19 patients admitted there, helping to keep the doctors and nursing staff at a safe distance to protect them against the dreaded coronavirus.
  • The robot is battery-operated and has a life span of 4-5 years. The humanoid robot uses artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to navigate its own way without the instructions to follow lines on the floor. A Jaipur-based entrepreneur has offered to supply the humanoid robots for free of cost to the hospital as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative. 
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