UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 21-April-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. FDI ban ‘discriminatory’, says china, but continues supplies

  2. French nobel prize winner claims coronavirus came from wuhan’s lab

  3. Smt. Nirmala sitharaman attends the 5th annual meeting of board of governors of new development bank through video-conference

  4. Union hrd minister chairs the review meeting on swayam and swayam prabha in new delhi

  5. Us crude oil price crashes below zero, creates history 


FDI BAN ‘DISCRIMINATORY’, SAYS CHINA, BUT CONTINUES SUPPLIES

Why in news?

  • The Chinese embassy has said in a statement, Beijing hoped India would revise relevant "discriminatory practices, treat investments from different countries equally, and foster an open, fair and equitable business environment".


Highlights:

  • With China in mind, the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had made it mandatory for any country sharing land boundary with India to invest through the government approval route only. 

  • The embassy said that the additional barriers set by Indian side for investors from specific countries violated WTO’s principle of non-discrimination, and went against the general trend of liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment.

  • More importantly, they do not conform to the consensus of G20 leaders and trade ministers to realize a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open

  • While China called for countries to work together to meet the economic downturn caused by Covid-19, and recalled Chinese enterprises ``actively’’ donating to help India fight COVID-19 epidemic, official sources here said these were 2 separate issues. 

  • Official sources said Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation had gifted equipment needed by India and that these had been routed through the Indian Red Cross just like any other gift from other countries. India is currently engaged with public and private entities in China to source the equipment which it needs. 

  • On the issue of FDI though, India is unlikely to review its position anytime soon even as the Chinese embassy said here that China had driven the development of India’s industries, such as mobile phone, household electrical appliances, infrastructure and automobile, creating a large number of jobs in India.


Source : Times of India ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/fdi-ban-discriminatory-says-china-but-continues-supplies/articleshow/75252445.cms )


FRENCH NOBEL PRIZE WINNER CLAIMS CORONAVIRUS CAME FROM WUHAN’S LAB

Why in news?

  • French Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier stirred controversy after he claimed in an interview with French CNews channel that the coronavirus has come from Wuhan’s lab, which was tested to develop a vaccine against the AIDS virus.


Highlights:

  • The theory of the virus originated from Wuhan’s lab has been doing rounds across the world. Last week, Donald Trump had also extended his acknowledgement to a Fox News report that said the coronavirus may have been accidentally leaked by an intern working at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.

  • The exclusive report by the Fox News based on the unnamed sources claimed that though the stain of the virus occurs naturally in bats and is not a bio-weapon, it was studied in China’s infamous laboratory in Wuhan.

  • During the podcast by Pourquoi Docteur, professor Montagnier who co-discovered HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), claimed the presence of elements of HIV in the genome of the coronavirus and even elements of the "germ of malaria" are highly suspect.

  • Australia has called for global inquiry on the origin of Covid-19 independent of WHO


Source : Business Line ( https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/world/french-nobel-prize-winner-claims-coronavirus-came-from-wuhans-lab/article31385834.ece )

SMT. NIRMALA SITHARAMAN ATTENDS THE 5TH ANNUAL MEETING OF BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF NEW DEVELOPMENT BANK THROUGH VIDEO-CONFERENCE

Why in news?

  • Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman attended the 5th Annual Meeting of Board of Governors of New Development Bank through video-conference in New Delhi.


Highlights:


About NDB :

  • The NDB was established by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in 2014. 

  • The purpose of the Bank is to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries to complement the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. 

  • NDB has so far approved 14 projects of India for an amount of $ 4,183 million.

  • She strongly encouraged NDB to take appropriate actions to join G-20 forum along with other Multilateral Development Bank (MDBs)/International Financial Institutions (IFIs).

  • She urged NDB to follow innovative practices in supporting the BRICS nations for achieving their Sustainable Development Goals.


Source : PIB ( https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1616547 )


UNION HRD MINISTER CHAIRS THE REVIEW MEETING ON SWAYAM AND SWAYAM PRABHA IN NEW DELHI

Why in news?

  • Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' held a detailed review of the National online education platform SWAYAM and the 32 DTH Television Education Channels SWAYAM PRABHA in New Delhi today. 


Highlights:


About SWAYAM :

  • SWAYAM is a programme initiated by Government of India and designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality.

  • The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged.

  • SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy.

  • 1902 courses are available currently in SWAYAM, which have been offered to 1.56 cr. Students since launch. 


About SWAYAM Prabha :

  • The SWAYAM PRABHA is a group of 32 DTH channels devoted to telecasting of high-quality educational programmes on 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite.

  • Every day, there will be new content for at least (4) hours which would be repeated 5 more times in a day, allowing the students to choose the time of their convenience.


Source : PIB ( https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1616474 )


US CRUDE OIL PRICE CRASHES BELOW ZERO, CREATES HISTORY

Why in news?

  • U.S. oil prices on Monday crashed and turned negative for the first time in history, as the lockdown across the globe continues amid the coronavirus pandemic and traders don’t want to get stuck owning crude with nowhere to store it.


Highlights:

  • This simply means that the oil producers are paying the buyers to take the commodity off their stocks amid fears that storage capacity could run out in May.

  • Demand for oil has collapsed so much due to the coronavirus pandemic that facilities for storing crude are nearly full.

  •  The steep fall in the price is because of the lack of sufficient demand and lack of storage place given the fact that the production cut has failed to address the supply glut.

  • The decline comes despite the recent output cut agreement between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies. There were hopes that agreement would stabilise oil prices, but with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, there has been a large slip-in demand that is not letting a pick-up in oil prices.

  • The price of oil has now reached a point that it is increasingly becoming difficult for higher-cost producers to remain in operation and rather look at declaring bankruptcy. A lot of US shale producers are in deep trouble and analysts expect that low oil price for few more months will result in a spate of bankruptcies in the US.


Source : The statesman ( https://www.thestatesman.com/business/us-crude-oil-price-crashes-zero-creates-history-1502879465.html )

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