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Important Current Affairs 28th May 2020

International

Facebook Launches its Audio-only Calling App ‘CatchUp’

• The internal R&D group of Facebook, the NPE (New Product Experimentation) Team, has come up with a calling application called Catch-Up.

• This audio-only unique app has been developed to coordinate call timings with friends and family members and enables to set up group calls with up to 8 people. The CatchUp app has currently been launched in the United States for testing purpose.

• CatchUp won’t need a Facebook account to use the service and the app works with your phone’s contacts list. Through this app, user will get to know who all in their contact list are free to talk, and which contact is offline.

Banking and Economy

Fitch forecasts India’s GDP growth rate to contract 5% in FY21

• American credit rating agency Fitch ratings has drastically projects India’s economic growth forecast to contract 5 percent in the current fiscal year 2020-21 due to a prolonged .

• This means India’s GDP is estimated to be -5% in FY21.Earlier it had predicted the same at 0.8%

S&P forecasts Indian economy to contract 5% in FY21

S&P Global Ratings has slashed India’s GDP growth rate to 5% in the Fiscal Year 2021. The reduction in the growth rates has been made due to slump in the economic activities in the whole country amid  imposed.

SBI Research Downgrades India’s GDP at -6.8% for FY21

• SBI Research has slashed India’s economic growth forecast in the current fiscal year 2020-21 to contract to 6.8 percent from earlier 4.7 percent.

• This means, as per SBI Research Report, India’s GDP is estimated at -6.8% in FY21.

Science and Technology

NASA renamed its telescope after ‘Mother of Hubble’ Nancy Grace Roman

• US Space agency NASA has announced to name its next-generation space telescop, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), currently under development, in honor of Nancy Grace Roman, NASA’s first chief astronomer, who paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe.

• The WFIRST Telescope will now be called Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (or Roman Space Telescope, for short). It is set to be launched in the mid-2020s.It will be the successor to NASA’s Hubble and Webb Telescopes.

Obituary

Padma Shri awardee, Urdu Writer Mujtaba Hussain passes away

• Noted Urdu author, humorist and satirist Mujtaba Hussain passed away. He was born on July 15, 1936, in Hyderabad, Telangana. Hussain was described as the Mark Twain of Urdu.

• He began his literary career from “Siasat”, a leading Urdu daily published from Hyderabad.

Ranking

AarogyaSetu becomes world's largest contact tracing app

• Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said on May 27, 2020 that India’s AarogyaSetu has become the world's largest contact tracing app, reaching over 11 crore 40 lakh people in just 40 days.

• The Minister tweeted saying that the application is a classic example of coordination between government, industry and citizens. The app was recently made an open source.

• The Health Minister stated that the iOS version of the open source app will be released in the next two weeks. He further added saying that the use of the app is continuously increasing and a large number of people are benefiting from it.

Books and Authors

JK Rowling to release her latest book “The Ickabog”

• The “Harry Potter” author, JK Rowling will release her latest book, “The Ickabog”, online for free, for the children during this  period. The Ickabog’ is a story about truth and the abuse of power.

• Rowling has pledged to donate all royalties when the book is published to “groups who’ve been particularly impacted.”

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Important Current Affairs 14th May 2020

National

Economic Relief Package announced for “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”

In continuation to PM Modi’s announcement of Rs 20 lakh crore boost to the economy, the Finance Minister of India, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has made certain announcements for relief and credit support related to businesses, especially MSMEs to support the Indian Economy. These are the announcements made on May 13, 2020.

• Rs 3 lakh crore Emergency Working Capital Facility for Businesses, including MSMEs-  This will be available to units with uptoRs 25 crore outstanding and turnover of up to Rs 100 crore whose accounts are standard.

• Rs 20,000 crore Subordinate Debt for Stressed MSMEs- Provision made for Rs. 20,000 cr subordinate debt for two lakh MSMEs which are NPA or are stressed. Government will support them with Rs. 4,000 Cr. to Credit Guarantee Trust for Micro and Small enterprises (CGTMSE). Banks are expected to provide the subordinate-debt to promoters of such MSMEs equal to 15% of his existing stake in the unit subject to a maximum of Rs 75 lakhs.

• Rs 50,000 crores equity infusion through MSME Fund of Funds- Govt will set up a Fund of Funds with a corpus of Rs 10,000 crore that will provide equity funding support for MSMEs. The Fund of Funds shall be operated through a Mother and a few Daughter funds.

• New definition of MSME- Definition of MSME will be revised by raising the Investment limit.  Additional criteria of turnover also being introduced. MSME receivables from Government and CPSEs will be released in 45 days

• Employees Provident Fund Support for business and organised workers- The scheme introduced as part of PMGKP under which Government of India contributes 12% of salary each on behalf of both employer and employee to EPF will be extended by another 3 months for salary months of June, July and August 2020. Total benefits accrued is about Rs 2500 crores to 72.22 lakh employees.

• EPF Contribution to be reduced for Employers and Employees for 3 months- Statutory PF contribution of both employer and employee reduced to 10% each from existing 12% each for all establishments covered by EPFO for next 3 months. This will provide liquidity of about Rs.2250 Crore per month.

• Rs 30,000 crores Special Liquidity Scheme for NBFC/HFC/MFIs- Government will launch Rs 30,000 crore Special Liquidity Scheme, liquidity being provided by RBI. This will be 100 percent guaranteed by the Government of India.

• Rs 45,000 crores Partial credit guarantee Scheme 2.0 for Liabilities of NBFCs/MFIs- Existing Partial Credit Guarantee scheme is being revamped and now will be extended to cover the borrowings of lower rated NBFCs, HFCs and other Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs). Government of India will provide 20 percent first loss sovereign guarantee to Public Sector Banks.

• Rs 90,000 crore Liquidity Injection for DISCOMs- Power Finance Corporation and Rural Electrification Corporation will infuse liquidity in the DISCOMS to the extent of Rs 90000 crores in two equal instalments. This amount will be used by DISCOMS to pay their dues to Transmission and Generation companies. Further, CPSE GENCOs will give a rebate to DISCOMS on the condition that the same is passed on to the final consumers as a relief towards their fixed charges.

• The TDS rates for all non-salaried payment to residents, and tax collected at source rate will be reduced by 25 percent of the specified rates for the remaining period of FY 20-21.This will provided liquidity to the tune of Rs 50,000 Crore.

• Tax related measures- The due date of all Income Tax Returns for Assessment Year 2020-21 will be extended to 30 November, 2020.

Telangana becomes first Indian state to regulate crop cultivation

• Telangana recently became the first Indian state to tell farmers what to grow as a part of its pilot project. The government will now be regulating the cultivation of crops and will limit the growing of paddy crops to just 50 lakh acres.

• The state government has also regulated the cultivation of Red Gram to 10 lakh acres.

Banking and Economy

BRICS' Bank provides USD 1 billion loan to India

• The BRICS’s New Development Bank has decided to provide USD 1 billion emergency assistance loan to India to reduce human, social and economic losses.

• The 'Emergency Assistance Program Loan' to India was approved by the Board of Directors of the bank on April 30, 2020. “The loan was approved in response to the immediate financing needs of the Indian Government," said NDB Vice President and CEO Xian Zhu.

Awards

Sania Mirza becomes 1st Indian to win Fed Cup Heart Award

• Tennis player Sania Mirza on Monday became the first Indian to win the Fed Cup Heart Award for her successful return to the court post motherhood.

• Sania won the award for Asia/Oceania zone after securing a whopping 10,000 plus votes out of the total 16,985 cast for this year's three regional Group I nominees.

• She  is one of 4 winners chosen by a public vote, alongside AnastasijaSevastova of Latvia (wins Qualifiers award), Estonian AnettKontaveit (Europe/Africa I zone) and Mexico’s Fernanda Contreras Gomez (Americas I zone).

Obituary

Grammy-winning singer Betty Wright passes away

• The Grammy-winning soul singer, Betty Wright passed away. Her real name is Bessie Regina Norris. She is an R&B (Rhythm & blues) singer, songwriter and background vocalist.

• She received her first Grammy Award for the Best Song, “Where is the Love?”.

Appointments and Resignations

Manoj Ahuja appointed as new Chairman of CBSE

•  Manoj Ahuja was appointed as the new Chairman of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on May 12, 2020. He will be replacing IAS officer Anita Karwal, who has been appointed as the Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy under Human Resource Development Ministry.

•  Manoj Ahuja is a 1990 batch IAS officer of Odisha cadre. He is currently serving as the Special Director at the Lal Bahadur  Shastri National Academy of Administration under the Department of Personnel and Training.

V. Vidyavathi becomes new DG of Archaeological Survey of India

IAS officer V. Vidyavathi is appointed as the new Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) effective from 12th May 2020. She is a 1991 batch Karnataka cadre officer.

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