Daily GK Update: 20th May 2020

Rare palm from Andamans gets second home

  • A rare palm endemic to the South Andaman Island is finding a second home at Palode here, courtesy the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI). An earlier JNTBGRI effort in this direction had been thwarted by mischievous wild elephants that ate up all the specimens!
  • At first glance, Pinanga andamanensis — which at one point was written off as extinct — resembles the areca palm to which it is closely related. But its entire population of some 600 specimens naturally occurs only in a tiny, evergreen forest pocket in South Andaman’s Mount Harriet National Park.
  • By conserving the germplasm on the Indian mainland, JNTBGRI can ensure its continued survival in the event of its minuscule original home getting wiped out by, say, a natural calamity, JNTBGRI Director R. Prakashkumar told The Hindu. ‘Such conservation efforts assume special significance in the era of climate change,’ he said.

Source: The Hindu

Number of Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries crosses 1 crore mark; PM speaks with latest beneficiary

1 crore treatments provided under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri ...

  • The number of people who have benefited from the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme has crossed the one crore-mark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, noting that the initiative has had a positive impact on several lives.
  • In September 2018, Modi had launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana-Ayushman Bharat. It has been termed as the biggest government-sponsored healthcare scheme in the world. “It would make every Indian proud that the number of Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries has crossed 1 crore.
  • In less than two years, this initiative has had a positive impact on so many lives,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter. He congratulated all the beneficiaries and their families and prayed for their good health He appreciated the doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and all others associated with Ayushman Bharat, saying their efforts have made it the largest healthcare programme in the world.

Source: One India

National Crisis Management Committee reviews preparedness to deal with super Cyclone ‘Amphan’

National Crisis Management Committee meets to review AMPHAN ...

  • National Crisis Management Committee under Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba met for the second time yesterday to review the preparedness of states and central Ministries and agencies to deal with the super cyclone AMPHAN. Officers of Odisha and West Bengal Governments apprised the NCMC of preparatory measures taken by them. They also assured that adequate stocks of food grains, drinking water and other essential supplies and services are available with them.
  • NDRF has deployed 26 teams in Odisha and West Bengal and additional teams are enroute to these states. The teams are equipped with boats, tree cutters, telecom equipment etc. Rescue and relief teams of the Army and Navy alongwith ships and aircraft of the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard have been put on standby.

Source: Indus Scrolls

TB vaccine as anti-Covid candidate: what ICMR will study in BCG trial

What is the BCG vaccine, studied by ICMR?

  • In a growing list of global trials on the efficacy of tuberculosis vaccines in preventing Covid-19, one is an upcoming 10-month trial being conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on the BCG vaccine.
  • Short for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, BCG is a vaccine that uses a live attenuated strain (potency of the pathogen artificially disabled, but identifying characters retained) derived from an isolate of Mycobacterium Bovis. It has been used across the world, including in India for decades, against tuberculosis.
  • India, like many other Asian, African, and Latin American countries, has a current national BCG vaccination policy for all at birth. Countries that have terminated their policies or only recommend the vaccine for specific groups are mostly in Europe and North America.

Source: The Indian Express

FIEO expects 20% fall in export during FY21 over coronavirus pandemic

FIEO expects 20% fall in export during FY21 over coronavirus pandemic

  • The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said on Tuesday that the export from the country is expected to fall by 20 per cent in the current fiscal in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The outlook is “extremely negative” at the moment, and fall in export will also be accompanied by a decline in import, an official of the apex exporters’ body said. “We expect that export during the current financial year is likely to fall by 20 per cent. In value terms, this will be around USD 50 to 60 billion,” FIEO director general and chief executive officer Ajay Sahai said.

Source: Business Standard

NTA launches ‘National Abhyas App’ for JEE Main and NEET aspirants

Free mock tests for JEE, NEET aspirants: HRD minister launches ...

  • An artificial intelligence-powered mobile app ‘National Test Abhyas’ developed by the National Testing Agency (NTA) was launched on Tuesday. The objective of the mobile app is to enable candidates to take mock tests for upcoming exams such as JEE (Main), NEET 2020 under the NTA’s purview. The app has been launched to facilitate candidates’ access to high quality mock tests.
  • Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India, said, “This timely launch is designed to ensure that no student is left behind in getting exposure to practice testing, especially when student’s loss due to closure of educational institutions is to be compensated and NTA’s Test-Practice Centers are shut due to the covid-19 lockdown.”

Source: Government.com

World Bee Day 2020: Everything About The Theme, Date & Purpose Of The Day

Celebrating World Bee Day 20 May - YouTube

  • Bees and other pollinators like bats, butterflies are gradually under the global threat of extinction due to human activities. According to experts, the survival of our ecosystem is largely dependent on the fundamental process of pollination. Most of the flowering plant species either entirely or partly are dependent on animal pollination. Not only that but pollinators also contribute towards food security and conserving biodiversity.
  • Hence to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, World Bee Day is celebrated. Like every year, World Bee Day 2020 will be celebrated on May 20.
  • World Bee Day 2020 will aim at strengthening measures to protect bees and other pollinators like every year. According to United Nations guidelines, World Bee Day aims at significantly contributing to solving problems related to the global food supply chain and eliminate hunger in developing countries.

Source: Republic World

Sun reportedly entering ‘Solar Minimum’: What’s the phenomenon and why is it happening now?

Sun has entered into deepest period of Sunshine Recession ...

  • Most of us are in lockdown, and now experts believe that the sun has reportedly also gone into one. The sun is said to have gone into a state called the ‘solar minimum’ and is about to enter the deepest period of ‘sunshine recession’ as sunspots are virtually not visibly at all. Some reports suggest that it has been almost 100 days this year when the sun has shown zero sunspots.
  • “Solar Minimum is underway and it’s a deep one. The sun’s magnetic field has become weak, allowing extra cosmic rays into the solar system.”Astronomer Dr Tony Phillips told The Sun.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had predicted the sun entering ‘solar minimum” back in 2017.
  • In a blog post, it wrote, “The sun is heading toward solar minimum now. Sunspot counts were relatively high in 2014, and now they are sliding toward a low point expected in 2019-2020.

Source: Times Now News

Indian Railways’ most powerful 12000 HP ‘Made in India’ locomotive makes first commercial run

Indian Railways get state-of-the-art Alstom 12,000 BHP locomotives ...

  • The Indian Railways operationalised its most powerful ‘Made in India locomotive – a 12000 HP engine – on Monday, becoming only the sixth country in the world to join the elite club of producing high horsepower locomotive indigenously, the Ministry of Railways said.
  • The first 12000 HP made in India Locomotive, manufactured by Madhepura Electric Loco Factory situated in Bihar, was put into operation by Indian Railways from Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Jn Station Monday, it said.

Source: DNA India

Coronavirus: Trump accuses WHO of being a ‘puppet of China’

Coronavirus | WHO states agree to independent probe of COVID-19 ...

  • The comment came hours after the US said the World Health Organization (WHO) had let Covid-19 spin “out of control” at the cost of “many lives”.
  • “There was a failure by this organisation to obtain the information that the world needed,” US Health Secretary Alex Azar said on Monday.
  • Mr Azar made the comments in an address to the UN’s World Health Assembly.
  • WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier agreed to a review over the agency’s handling of the pandemic.
  • Dr Tedros said an independent evaluation, which would look at what lessons could be learned and put forward any recommendations, would take place “at the earliest opportunity”.

Source: BBC News

India gives $2 million aid to UN agency working for Palestinian refugees’ welfare

19/05/2020 - 5:33 PM - India Provides USD 2 Million aid To UN ...

  • India has given USD 2 million in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency working for the welfare of Palestinian refugees in support of its core programmes and services, including education and health, amidst the coronavirus crisis.
  • India had increased its annual contribution to the UNRWA from USD 1.25 million in 2016 to USD 5 million in 2019. It pledged another USD 5 million for 2020 which opens its way to become a member of the agency’s advisory commission, according to official sources.
  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) applauded India’s financial support to keep its basic services operating, especially under the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: The Print 

Nepal approves new map incorporating Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh

Nepal approves new political map including India's Kalapani ...

  • Yubraj Khatiwada, Minister of Finance and Information and Communication, announced that a new political map of Nepal is being issued.
  • “The updated map of Nepal presented by the Ministry of Land Management in today’s Council of Ministers meeting has been endorsed. The new map incorporates northern, southern, western and eastern International borderlines as well as includes the political and administrative arrangements,” Khatiwada, also the government spokesperson said on Monday.
  • “This new map will be used in all kinds of documents which has been enforced on by government,” he added.
  • Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, while reading out Plans and Policies of the Government for the Fiscal Year of 2020-21 last week, had announced a new map incorporating the claimed territories as that of Nepal.

Source: Business Standard