Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 29 MARCH 2020
Centre asks states to setup camps for migrant workers
- As lakhs of migrant labourers and workers continued to travel on foot to reach their homes in wake of the 21-day countrywide lockdown, the Union Home Ministry has asked the States to “immediately set up relief camps” along the highways and conduct regular medical checks while observing proper social distancing norms.
- The Ministry also issued an order authorising the States to use State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) to provide “for temporary accommodation, food, clothing, medical care, etc.” to homeless people, including the stranded migrant labourers.
- The Centre contributes 75% of the SDRF allocation for general category States and Union Territories and 90% for special category States (northeastern States, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir).
- The Ministry said in a statement that Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday reviewed the country’s preparedness to contain the spread of COVID-19. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to the States requesting them to immediately set up relief camps for migrant workers and pilgrims who are trying to return to their domicile States.
- “States have been advised to give wide publicity and awareness, using public address systems, technology and by utilising the services of volunteers and NGOs, to give precise information on the location of the relief camps and the facilities being made available and relief package under the PradhanMantriGaribKalyanYojana and measures being taken by the State Government,” the Ministry said.
Centre plans to restart classes via distance mode
- The school break is almost over for students from Classes 9 to 12. The Centre plans to restart classes in the distance mode next week, with teaching via dedicated TV and radio channels in English and Hindi, Human Resource Development Secretary AmitKhare said on Saturday. Many schools have been shut since early March due to the pandemic, even before the countrywide lockdown was announced last week.
- “We are planning to start the next academic year virtually. We don’t want students to waste their time and then suffer when the schools reopen. We do not know how long the shutdown will last. That is a health decision. But the next academic year may get compressed,” Mr.Kharetold on Saturday.
- This means that the new academic calendar will begin as usual in April for classes 9 to 12, though the last academic year may have been somewhat truncated, with examinations postponed in some cases. In fact, the CBSE exams for classes 10 and 12 have not been completed.
- “We have asked the NIOS [National Institute of Open Schooling] to create a structured programme for schools class-wise. It is being done along with NCERT [National Council of Educational Research and Training] using their syllabus,” said Mr.Khare, adding that while content has already been prepared for secondary and higher secondary students, work is also starting to prepare material for lower classes as well.
RBI confirms merger of banks to come into force from April-1
- Reserve Bank of India has said that the merger of 10 state-run banks into four will come into force from April 1. The branches of merging banks will operate as of the banks in which these have been amalgamated.
- The government on March 4 had notified the amalgamation schemes for 10 state owned banks into four as part of its consolidation plan to create bigger size stronger banks in the public sector.
- As per the scheme, Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India will be merged into Punjab National Bank; Syndicate Bank into Canara Bank; Allahabad Bank into Indian Bank; and Andhra and Corporation banks into Union Bank of India.
- Under this, the branches of Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India will operate as branches of Punjab National Bank from April 1, and branches of Syndicate Bank as that of Canara Bank.
- It informed that Allahabad Bank branches will operate as those of Indian Bank while the branches of Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank will function as the branches of Union Bank of India from the beginning of next fiscal year 2020-21.
Farming and allied activities exempted from lockdown
- Agriculture, farming and allied activities have been exempted from the lockdown. The decision has been taken with a view to address problems being faced by the farming community. This will also ensure uninterrupted harvesting of crops.
- Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has been constantly monitoring issues related to the farmers ever since the lockdown was enforced. He was apprised of the difficulties the farmers could face in the harvesting of their crops and transporting foodgrains to the mandis. The decision will also allow unhindered harvesting of crops.
- Under the 2nd Addendum issued by the Union Home Ministry the categories that have been exempted from the lockdown include agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products such as MSP operations; Mandis operated by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee or as notified by the State Government, Farming operations by farmers and farm workers in the field and custom hiring centres related to farm machinery.
Taiwan invites china-based journalists expelled by U.S to their island
- Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu extended a personal invitation on Saturday for three major U.S. newspapers to station on the island their China-based journalists whose expulsion Beijing has announced.
- China said on March 18 it was revoking the press accreditations of all American journalists in the China bureaus of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, which were due to expire at the end of 2020. Beijing also said those affected would not be allowed to work as journalists in the Chinese-run city of Hong Kong. In the past, foreign journalists kicked out of, or barred from, mainland China were allowed to work in Hong Kong.
- Taiwan is home to only a small number of permanent foreign correspondents, and none of the three newspapers has a full-time presence on the island currently.
- WHO warns on issue of lack of protective gear to health workers
- The World Health Organization has warned that a dire lack of protective gear for health workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most pressing threats in the fight to prevent deaths.
- WHO Chief TedrosAdhanomGhebreyesus said that the WHO had shipped almost two million individual items of Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, to 74 countries and was preparing to send a similar amount to a further 60 countries.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Scientists decode evolution patterns in E.coli
- Studying cultures of E. coli bacteria, a group of evolutionary biologists from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, has found that the population size determines the kind of fitness trade-offs the microbes adopt.
- Fitness trade-off may be understood in the following manner: Organisms do not have the capacity to maximise all their functions at the same time. Often when they enhance one function, another function suffers, or when they adapt to survive well in one environment, they cannot survive or reproduce well in another environments. This is called a fitness trade-off. This concept has been used by evolutionary biologists to explain why species prefer one environment to another.
- There are several ways in which the concept of fitness trade-off originates. Evolution causes some organisms to be generalists, by which it is meant that they can survive in different environments, and basically they will have an tolerable level of fitness in all environments.
- The other option is they evolve into specialists, where the organism will have a high degree of fitness in a particular environment while having low fitness in other environments.
- The study shows that large populations tend to evolve into specialists, exercising fitness trade-offs, whereas small populations evolve into generalists.
- If the environment abruptly shifts between two states that show fitness trade-offs with each other, then populations with a history of evolution at larger numbers would be at a greater disadvantage than historically smaller populations.
- The group next plans to study the response in fluctuating environments. “We are now studying more complex links between population size and trade-offs, combining fitness data with population genomics, in both constant and fluctuating environments,” says Prof. Dey.