Daily Current Affairs for 15th May 2020

  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Current Affairs May 2020
  4. »
  5. Daily Current Affairs for 15th May 2020

Migrant workers to get free food grains:

Paper: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Sub-topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment

Why in News?

Second tranche of the economic stimulus package has been announced by the Finance Minister.

Key Points:

  • The first tranche of measures includes ₹3 lakh crore collateral free 4-year tenure loan for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)with moratorium on payment for first 12 months.
  • loan provision of ₹20,000 crore for stressed MSMEswas also made and a ₹30,000 crore special liquidity scheme for investment in debt papers of NBFCs were announced, among other schemes
  • Also, a relief package of ₹1.7 lakh crorewas announced earlier by the government.
  • A major focus of the second tranche of the economic stimulus package announced is to provide free food grains for the next two months to migrant workers who do not have ration cards.
  • The move to provide free foodgrains for migrant workers is an extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana,which provided an additional monthly free rice or wheat allocation to 80 crore people with ration cards covered by the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
  • Over the past few months, migrant workers and others without ration cards have struggled without access to this free food.
  • The Centre will spend ₹3,500 crorefor this purpose.
  • It also includes an extension of credit facilities for urban housing, street vendors and farmers.
  • Street vendors who have been hit hard by the lockdown will be given access to easy credit through a ₹5,000 crore scheme, which will offer ₹10,000 loans for initial working capital.
  • The Centre plans a drive to enroll 2.5 crore farmers who are not yet part of the Kisan Credit Cards scheme, along with fish workers and livestock farmers, and provide them with ₹2 lakh crore worth of concessional creditNABARD(National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) will also extend additional refinance support worth ₹30,000 crore to rural banks for crop loans.
  • An interest subvention scheme for small businesses has been announced.
  • Small businesses who have taken loans under the MUDRA-Shishu scheme, meant for loans worth ₹50,000 or less, will receive a 2% interest subvention relieffor the next year.
  • This would cost the government ₹1,500 crore.
  • The Centre will help create affordable rental housing for the urban poorand provide relief worth ₹1,500 crore to small businesses through an interest subvention scheme.

Noting that migrant workers and other urban poor face difficulties in finding affordable housing, the Finance Minister said a scheme to build rental housing complexes through public private partnership mode would be launched under the existing Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme.

Both public and private agencies will be incentivised to build rental housing on government and private land, while existing government housing will be converted into rental units.

The credit linked subsidy scheme for lower middle-class housing under PMAY will also be extended by one year to March 2021.

It is hoped that this would also create jobs and stimulate demand for the steel, cement and construction industries.

  • It is announced that, by August 2020, the ration card portability scheme will allow 67 crore NFSA beneficiaries in 23 connected States to use their cards at any ration shop anywhere in the country.
  • This would allow migrant workers to access subsidised food away from their home villages.The scheme would cover all beneficiaries by March 2021.
  • States have been directed to enrol returning workers without livelihoodin their villages, under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).


  • An economist pointed out that the only fiscal outlay in the announcements are the ₹3,500 crore for food grains to migrants and ₹1,500 crore for the MUDRA loanees. So only ₹5,000 crore is actually coming from government coffers, while the rest are credit-based measures.
  • Terming the government’s approach as stingy and half-hearted, it was noted that at a time when demand is down, any move to provide liquidity are not going to help.
  • It is believed that putting cash in people’s pockets would have been a better approach.

IIM-Ahmedabad professor and economist who had calculated that 10 crore people have been excluded from NFSA coverage due to growth since census 2011, said the new intervention of providing free foodgrains would not even cover that shortfall.

Virus diagnostic test may be delayed

Paper : General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Sub-topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Why in news:

A promising technology developed by a laboratory funded by the Department of Science and Technology to accelerate COVID-19 testing in India may be delayed for several more weeks. The Chitra GeneLAMP-N, developed by the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, needs more confirmatory testing and changes in its configuration.

Chitra GeneLAMP-N:

  • Chitra GeneLAMP-N is a diagnostic test kitthat can confirm COVID-19 in 2 hours at low cost.
  • The results can be read from the machine from the change in fluorescence.


  • The confirmatory diagnostic test detects the N Gene of SARS- COV2 using reverse transcriptase loop-mediated amplification of viral nucleic acid (RT-LAMP).
  • The test kit is highly specific for SARS-CoV-2 N-gene and can detect two regions of the gene.
  • It is a technique for the amplification of RNA. It is used in the detection of viruses.
  • In this method, a DNA copy of the viral RNA is generated by reverse transcriptase, and then isothermal amplification is carried out to increase the amount of total DNA.


  • Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)is a laboratory technique combining reverse transcription of RNA into DNA (in this context called complementary DNA or cDNA) and amplification of specific DNA targets using polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
  • Reverse Transcription is the process in cells by which an enzyme makes a copy of DNA from RNA.
  • The enzyme that makes the DNA copy is called reverse transcriptase and is found in retroviruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • RT-PCR is primarily used to measure the amount of a specific RNA. 


  • The objective of LAMP, like that of RT-PCR tests, is the same: to detect the presence of viral RNA.
  • Both achieve this via a series of chemical transformations.
  • The LAMP method is said to be faster but is a relatively newer technology, more complicated in its design and has not been tested extensively for COVID-19 detection.
  • Most RT-PCR kits focus on two different genes, the E (envelope) gene and the RdRP (RNA dependent RNA polymerase) gene.
  • The World Health Organization recommends an E and RdRP test, while the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires an N gene test.
  • The N gene test is a confirmatory test and widely employed in Germany and China,among other countries. However, the design of it is complicated and can be expensive.
  • The CDC protocol says three regions of the N gene must be analysed but the Chitra-model tests two to confirm the identity of the virus.

Though the Chitra test passed an initial assessment by the National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha, a subsequent assessment showed that it was not performing as accurately as desired.

India reminds China of claims over Gilgit-Baltistan

Paper : General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Sub-topic: India and its neighborhood- relations

Why in news?

Official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs reminded China about India’s claims over the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan under Pakistan’s control. China has teamed up with Pakistan to build the Diamer-Bhasha dam. It was asserted that India’s position is clear and the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir is part of India. In the past too, India has opposed projects jointly taken up by Pakistan and China in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).


  • The assertion is important as it was made a day after Power China, one of the biggest Chinese power companies, received a contract to build the Diamer-Bhasha dam.
  • Chinese state-run firm Power China holds 70% and the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), a commercial arm of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, 30% share in the consortium.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam:

  • It is a dam being built by Pakistan on Indus river in Gilgit-Baltistan region
  • Both World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have refused to fund the project due to India’s objections.
  • China has come forward to fund and build the project.
  • The project is designed to serve as the main storage dam of the country, besides Mangla and Tarbela dams.
  • The project is estimated to help alleviate acute irrigation shortage in the Indus basin irrigation system caused by progressive siltation of the existing reservoirs.

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir:

  • Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is an area of 13,297 sq. km, which was under the control of the Pakistani forces when the ceasefire line came into effect on January 1, 1949.
  • That was after a 14-month period of hostilities between India and Pakistan, which began with an invasion of Kashmir by Pashtun tribesmen, and later its Army, to seize Kashmir.
  • In 1963, through an agreement, Pakistan ceded to China over 5,000 sq. km of J&K land under its control, in the Shaksgam area, in northern Kashmir, beyond the Karakoram.
  • PoK has a population of over 40 lakhs, according to a census carried out in 2017.
  • It is divided into 10 districts: Neelum, Muzaffarabad, Hattian Bala, Bagh, and Haveli bordering areas in Kashmir, and Rawlakot, Kotli, Mirpur, and Bhimber bordering areas in Jammu.
  • The capital of PoK is Muzaffarabad, a town located in the valley of the Jhelum river and its tributary Neelum (which Indians call Kishanganga) to the west and slightly north of Srinagar.

Gilgit Baltistan:

  • This is a picturesque, hilly region to the north of PoK and east of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
  • The British sold it, along with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Dogra ruler of Jammu, Gulab Singh, after defeating the Sikh army in 1846.
  • However, they retained controlled over the area through a lease extracted from the Maharaja.
  • This lease was last renewed in 1935.
  • In 1947, a British army officer of the rank of Colonel imprisoned Maharaja Hari Singh’s governor in the region, and handed over the area for accession to Pakistan.
  • Gilgit Baltistan (GB) is spread over 72,871 sq km, and is five-and-a-half times the size of PoK. But it is sparsely populated, with just under 20 lakh people.
  • GB is divided into three administrative divisions and 10 districts.

Administrative status in Gilgit Baltistan:

  • Though both PoK and GB are ruled directly from Islamabad, neither is officially listed as the territory of Pakistan.
  • Pak has just four provinces: Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (which now includes the Federally Administered Tribal areas or FATA), Balochistan, and Sindh.
  • PoK and GB are both “autonomous territories”.
  • Pakistan has kept this fiction going, as incorporating these areas into its map would damage its international position in the UN and elsewhere that the entire Jammu and Kashmir is “disputed”.

China rebuts Taiwan on WHO participation

Paper: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Sub-topic: India and its neighborhood- relations

Why in news?

China opposed any move by Taiwan to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to seek independence, its Embassy in New Delhi said.

Key points:

  • Taiwan is not a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • China has opposed its inclusion in the World Health Assembly (WHA), the organisation’s decision-making body, citing the ‘One China principle’, although Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016.
  • Taiwan wants to share its experience with the World Health Organization (WHO) where it is not a member, but wants participation.
  • The Foreign Minister of Taiwan believes that if Taiwan could participate fully in the WHO and if it could interact with other countries on an equal basis under the WHO framework, more nations would receive Taiwan’s early warning.

China’s reaction:

  • The Chinese Embassy in New Delhi said in a statement that Taiwan was looking to hype up its participation in the World Health Organization (WHO), while its real intention is to solicit foreign support and seek independence under the pretext of the pandemic.

Additional information:

  • India is among the 179 of the 193 member states of the UN that do not maintain any diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
  • While the U.S. has been pushing for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHA, the move will require a simple majority from member states.

India is yet to make a final decision on whether to support the U.S. move to include Taiwan or to accept China’s objections to it.

Current Affairs

Recent Posts