Daily GK Update: 18th March 2020

APEDA signs MoU with SFAC

  • Agri Export Policy announced by Government of India with “Farmers’ Centric Approach” suggests for developing product specific clusters in the country to help improving productivity and quality of the varieties of crops with special involvement of Farm Producer Organizations(FPOs).
  • FPOs are an institutional innovation to help small holders to reduce cost of produce by procuring necessary inputs in bulk at wholesale rates, aggregation of produce and bulk transport reducing marketing cost etc. and extend their reach to modern technology and distant markets. The policy also aims at addressing the obstacles faced by FPOs through organisation like Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) and State level organizations to expand FPO network.

Source:  Ministry of Commerce & Industry

DAC approves procurement of 83 indigenous Tejas fighter aircraft for Indian Air Force

Image result for Defence Acquisition Council approves procurement of 83 Tejas Fighter Jets
  • Defence Acquisition Council approved  procurement of 83 indigenous Tejas fighter aircraft for Indian Air Force yesterday. The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is going to be the backbone of Indian Air Force in future.
  • While orders of 40 Tejas aircraft had been placed with HAL in initial configurations, DAC paved the way for the procurement of another 83 of the more advanced version of the aircraft from HAL. Our correspondent reports, this procurement will be a major boost to Make in India as the aircraft is indigenously designed.
  • The Defence Acquisition Council also accorded approval for acquisition of indigenous Defence equipment for about 1,300 crore rupees.
Source: News on Air

Rs. 12,447 crore p.a. savings to public after implementation of DPCO, 2013: Shri.Gowda

Image result for Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013 saved Rs 12,447 crores per annum since implementation
  • The Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri. D.V. Sadananda Gowda informed the  Lok  Sabha today In written replies  that  fixation of prices has resulted in a total saving of Rs. 12,447 crores per annum to the public after implementation of the DPCO, 2013.
  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixes the ceiling price of scheduled formulations adopted from National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and new drugs as per the provisions of para 4, 5 and 6 of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013 (DPCO, 2013). Further, the prices of non-scheduled formulation are monitored so that their MRP is not increased by more than 10% of MRP during preceding twelve months.

Source: Government of India 

Ayushman Bharat gets ready for coronavirus cover as cases rise in India

Image result for Ayushman Bharat to help fight against COVID-19
  • The National Health Authority is on a war footing to ready a COVID-19 special package under the government’s flagship Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY scheme as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise and many states go for a lockdown. NHA chief executive Indu Bhushan told Business Standard that this is among the steps being taken by the Authority just in case there’s a need.
  • Specific coronavirus-related plans for isolation wards are being finetuned, after which it would be reviewed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in terms of protocol. It will have to be approved by the NHA’s governing board after that. Officials pointed out that such a package would be needed if coronavirus spreads to the community level.

Source: Business Standard

Scientists ready for field trials of pest-resistant cotton variety

Image result for GM Crop: White Flies Resistant Cotton Field Trials begins
  • Whiteflies are one of the top ten devastating pests in the world that damage more than 2000 plant species and also function as vectors for some 200-plant viruses.
  • Cotton is one of the worst-hit crops by these, in 2015 two-third of the cotton crop was destroyed by the pest in Punjab. In a move to fight against whiteflies National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) Lucknow has developed a pest-resistant variety of cotton and is going to start field trials this year from April to October in Faridkot Center of Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana.

Source: Business Line

Ordnance Factories observe their 219th foundation day

Image result for Ordnance Factories observe their 219th foundation day
  • Ordnance Factories are observing their 219th foundation day today. The first Ordnance Factory, now known as the ‘Gun and Shell Factory’ at Cossipore in Kolkata was established on this day in 1801.
  • The Ordnance Factories are a conglomerate of 41 ordnance factories under the aegis of its corporate headquarters Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) in Kolkata. The OFB came into existence on April 2, 1979 in the new avatar.
  • Since their inception, the Ordnance Factories have evolved as one of the largest defence manufacturing conglomerates in the world with more than 90 per cent of indigenous content and a strong technological and R&D infrastructure that currently contributes to 25 per cent of the revenue.

Source: Government of India (Ministry of Defence)

Left Wing Extremism consistently declining

Image result for GoI: Left Wing Extremism has declined by 38% in last five years
  • On March 18, 2020, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs replied in Rajya Sabha about the decline in Left Wing Extremism in the last five years.
  • Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, G. Kishan Reddy, in a written reply to questions regarding measures taken by government to tackle Naxal Violence, in Rajya Sabha , said that steadfast implementation of the National Policy and Action Plan – 2015 has resulted in consistent decline in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) related violence in the country during last five years. In 2019, the number of LWE related incidents have reduced by over 38% in comparison to 2014.

Source: Aviation & Defence

India, Saudi Arabia explore virtual G-20 summit to address Covid-19 pandemic

Image result for Saudi Arabia to hold virtual G20 Summit as that of India’s SAARC
  • India and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday agreed that an exercise at level of G-20 similar to SAARC efforts last Sunday will be useful to address Covid-19 pandemic.
  • PM Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation with the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman. The two leaders discussed the global situation regarding the COVID – 19 pandemic. Saudi Arabia currently holds G-20 Presidency.
  • In this context, the Prime Minister mentioned India’s recent initiative to organise a video conference among SAARC countries.

Source: The Economic Times

CSIR scientists develop sanitiser without harmful chemicals

Image result for CSIR develops new Hand Sanitizer without using chemicals
  • Amid rising cases of fake sanitisers in the market following increasing demand for such products due to the coronavirus scare, scientists at CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) based in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, have developed a new type of hand sanitiser.
  • Dr. Sanjay Kumar, Director of IHBT said, “The natural flavours, active tea constituents and alcohol content in this hand-sanitiser have been used as per the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO). One of the special things is that chemicals like parabens, triclosan, synthetic fragrance and phthalates have not been used in this product.”

Source: The Economic Times

Health Ministry to allow accredited pvt labs to conduct tests for coronavirus

Image result for Government of India allows private sector to diagnose Coronavirus
  • To enhance capacity for diagnosis and detection of novel coronavirus amid rising cases in the country, the Union Health Ministry has decided to allow accredited private labs to conduct tests for COVID-19, officials said on Monday.
  • At present only government labs are permitted to do the test and the Centre is making arrangements to nearly double its capacity to test for the respiratory ailment.
  • According to Health Ministry officials, around 60 accredited private laboratories are likely to be given permission to conduct the tests soon.

Source: The Economic Times

Environmental organisations decry major European navigation project

Image result for European Project linking Black sea, North Sea and Baltic Sea criticized by Environmental Organization
  • Environmental organisations from across central and eastern Europe have criticised a major project intending to link three rivers and provide seamless navigation between three of Europe’s peripheral seas, according to a statement.
  • The Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal intends to connect the Danube, Oder and Elbe rivers and thus provide another navigable link from the Black Sea to the North and Baltic Seas.
  • However, environmental organisations from Germany, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria, wrote a joint letter to the European Union’s Commissioners for Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius, and for Transport, Adina Vălean on March 17, 2020, calling for the project to be halted.

Source: Down To Earth

Swachh Bharat Mission: Gram Panchayats get more funds under 15th finance commission

  • The GoI approved the implementation of second phase of Swachh Bharat Mission in February 2020.
  • It includes Open Defecation Free Plus and solid and liquid waste management.
  • The Government also declared India Open Defecation Free.
Source: The World News Monitor