Current Affairs 15 May 2020
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West Bengal Government Launches ‘Matir Smristi’ Scheme to Utilise 50,000-acre Barren Land in Six Districts
- The West Bengal government under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has launched ”Matir Smristi” to utilise 50,000 acres of barren land in six districts of the states, for income-generating activities like horticulture and pisciculture.
- The ”Matir Smristi” scheme is expected to benefit around 2.5 lakh people in rural Bengal.
- As per the data, there is at least 50,000 acre of barren land in Bankura, Birbhum, Purulia, Jhargram, West Burdwan and West Midnapore districts of the state.
- Preference would be given to locals for carrying out the project in which “lakhs of women self-help groups” will be involved.
ICCR Launches Song ‘United We Fight’ to Strengthen India’s Fight Against COVID-19
- The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), an autonomous body under MEA, has unveiled a new song titled “United we Fight” to motivate people to be united, think positive and have never say die attitude in our collective fight against COVID 19.
- The musical creation has been dedicated to world by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India, to spread India’s message of hope, resilience and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family).
- The 3.33 minutes long song ‘United We Fight’ is written and composed by Joe Alvares.
- The singers include: Usha Uthup, Salim Merchant, Shefali Alvares Rashid, Benny Dayal, Sonam Kalra, Chandan Bala Kalyan, Joe Alvares, Salome, and Samira.
- The music is created by Tubby, Pandit Ravi Chari, Pandit Rakesh Chaurasiya, and Ustad Faisal Qureshi.
Rate of Forest Loss Globally Declined Between 2015 and 2020: FAO report
- The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) was released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 13 May 2020.
- As per the report, the rate of forest loss during 2015-2020 declined to an estimated 10 million hectares (mha), compared to 12 million hectares (mha) loss in 2010-2015.
- The FRA 2020 report is based on more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories in the period 1990–2020.
Key Points of the Report
- Globally, 178 mha of forest has been lost since 1990, the size of which can be compared to that of the area of Libya.
- The rate of net forest loss declined from 7.8 mha per year in the decade 1990–2000 to 5.2 mha per year in 2000–2010 and 4.7 mha per year in 2010–2020.
- The world’s total forest area was 4.06 billion hectares (bha), which was 31 percent of the total land area (or 1/3rd) and equivalent to 0.52 ha per person.
- The largest proportion of the world’s forests were tropical (45 per cent), followed by boreal, temperate and subtropical.
- More than 54 percent of the world’s forests were in only five countries: Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China.
- Region wise, Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010–2020 (3.9 mha), followed by South America (2.6 mha).
- Asia had the highest net gain of forest area in 2010–2020, followed by Oceania and Europe.
Banking & Economy
Finance Minister announces 2nd tranche of economic support under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan
In continuation to PM Modi’s announcement of Rs 20 lakh crore boost to the economy, and the announcement made by her on May 13, 2020 the Finance Minister of India, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has made the announcement of the second tranche of economic support the Indian Economy’s fight against COVID-19. These are the announcements made on May 14, 2020.
The announcement focusses on short term and long-term measures for supporting the poor, including migrants, farmers, tiny businesses and street vendors.
- 2% Interest Subvention for 12 months for Shishu MUDRA loanees- Relief of Rs. 1,500 crore- Government of India will provide Interest subvention of 2% for prompt payees for a period of 12 months to MUDRA Shishu loanees, who have loans below Rs 50,000.The current portfolio of MUDRA Shishu loans is around Rs 1.62 Lakh crore. This will provide relief of about Rs 1,500 crore to Shishu MUDRA loanee.
- Free food grains supply to migrants for 2 months (i.e. May and June, 2020)
- Scheme for Affordable Rental Housing Complexes for Migrant Workers and Urban Poor to be launched
- Technology system to be used enabling Migrants to access PDS (Ration) from any Fair Price Shops in India by March,2021-One Nation one Ration Card
- Rs 5,000 crore Credit facility for Street Vendors- Under this scheme, bank credit facility for initial working capital up to Rs. 10,000 for each enterprise.
- Rs 70,000 crore boost to housing sector and middle income group through extension of Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for MIG under PMAY(Urban)- The Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Group (annual Income between Rs 6 and 18 lakhs) will be extended up to March 2021.
- Rs 6,000 crore for Creating employment using CAMPA funds- Compensatory Afforestation Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA)
- Rs 30,000 crore Additional Emergency Working Capital for farmers through NABARD- NABARD will extend additional re-finance support of Rs 30,000 crore for meeting crop loan requirement of Rural Cooperative Banks and RRBs. This refinance will be front-loaded and available on tap. This is over and above Rs 90,000 crore that will be provided by NABARD to this sector in the normal course.
- Rs 2 lakh crore credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers under Kisan Credit Card Scheme- A special drive to provide concessional credit to PM-KISAN beneficiaries through Kisan Credit Cards. 2.5 crore farmers will be covered.
US CDC Commits USD3.6 mn to Assist India’s fight against Covid-19
- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has committed $3.6 million to the Government of India to support the country in prevention, preparedness, and response activities against the COVID-19 epidemic.
- The first tranche of funding will be utilised to further strengthen and support the Government of India’s efforts to increase laboratory capacity for SARS-COV-2 testing, including molecular diagnostics and serology
- The funds will also be used to support the development of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) centres of excellence, that can help to imporove the ability of the hospital networks to detect COVID-19 and strengthen local health systems through enhanced surveillance and monitoring systems.
United Nations Projects Global GDP to Shrink by 3.2 Percent in 2020
- The United Nations has projected the world gross domestic product (GDP) to contract sharply by 3.2 percent in 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the sharpest contraction since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
- The World Economic Situation and Prospect (WESP) mid-2020 report was released on 13 May 2020 by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
- The global economy is expected to lose nearly $8.5 trillion in output over the next two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- The report estimates that the world GDP is expected to rebound to 3.4 percent in 2021, mostly recovering lost output.
V Vidyavathi Appointed as Director General of Archaeological Survey of India
- The Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the appointment of senior bureaucrat V Vidyavathi as the new Director General (DG) of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
- Vidyavathi is a 1991-batch IAS Officer from the Karnataka cadre.
- Other major appointments
- Director General of Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) – Rajendra Kumar
- Director General of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) – Shiv Das Meena of the Tamil Nadu cadre.
Splitsvilla Famed PK Actor Sai Gundewar Passes Away at 42
- Actor Sai Gundewar, who rose to prominence through MTV’s show Splitsvilla, has passed away due to brain cancer, in US while undergoing treatment. He was 42.
- Sai has also acted alongside Aamir Khan in PK, and Rock on.