30 JULY 2020
A) COVID Watch: Numbers and Developments.
The number of coronavirus cases reported from India stood at 15,79,601 with the death toll at 34,961. As per the Central government, the case fatality rate of India stood at 2.23% on 29 July, which is the lowest since 1 April. The Centre also added that coordinated implementation of the Test Track Treat strategy has ensured that the case fatality rate remained low when compared to other countries. Meanwhile, the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has announced the de-linking of hotels from hospitals in view of the improving Covid-19 situation in the national capital. All beds in such hotels, which were recently attached to hospitals, have reportedly been lying vacant for many days. Also, a sero-surveillance study done in Mumbai in collaboration with the Niti Aayog has revealed that 57% of the slum population and 16% of non-slum residents in three civic wards had developed antibodies, indicating that many more people would have been affected by Covid-19 than the official report and numbers suggests.
B) Rajasthan Governor returns State Cabinet’s request for the third time.
On 29 July, the Governor of Rajasthan Mr. Kalraj Mishra has returned Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s note in which he requested an assembly session, for the third time. The Governor said that there is no convincing reason to call a session on 31 July, without a 21-day notice, in the middle of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
C) Maruti Suzuki posts quarterly losses for the first time in 15 years.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. has posted a quarterly loss for the 1st time in the past 15 years. They are the largest automaker’s production of the country and the sales were declined due to coronavirus lockdown and supply chain disruptions. The headquartered company which is located in New Delhi suffered a net loss of ₹2.49 billion rupees in the 3 months till 30 June. At the same time a year ago, the company earned a huge profit of ₹14.36 billion. Unit sales at the carmaker dropped from 81% to 76,599 vehicles for the quarter ended June 30 as compared to the same quarter last year, but Maruti has said that the figures cannot be compared as it had to suspend operations from March 22 when the country went into lockdown.
D) Rafale jets finally arrive.
After Forty-six months of signing the contract of €7.87 billion, 5 Rafale fighter jets landed at Ambala airbase on 29 July in the presence of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Air Chief Marshal (ACM), Mr. R.K.S. Bhadauria. This is the first imported fighter that has been added to the IAF since the Sukhoi-30s from Russia in the late 90s. The Defence Minister of India, Mr. Rajnath Singh has said that the touch-down of Rafale combat aircraft in India marks the beginning of a new era in the military history of India. These multi-role aircraft will revolutionize the capabilities of the IAF. Noting that the Rafale jets were purchased when they fully met the operational requirements of the IAF, Singh said, “I would like to add, if it is anyone who should be worried about or critical about this new capability of the IAF, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity.”
A) Vaccines can be ready by the end of this year.
There are 2 vaccine companies that are expected to be ready for some form of distribution by the end of the year. Moderna Inc. is planning to sell its coronavirus vaccine at $50 to $60 per course, which is approximately $11 more than the other vaccine one which is developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech. Moderna has proposed a price for a 2 dose course sold to governments is in contrast to the $39 contract for 2 doses deal that Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech struck with the U.S. government.
B) 212 environmental campaigners killed worldwide.
According to watchdog group Global Witness, a record number of 212 environmental campaigners worldwide were killed last year. According to research conducted by the NGO, more than 4 defenders were killed every week in 2019. The study conducted by the NGO revealed that Agribusiness and oil, gas, and mining have consistently been the biggest drivers of attacks against land and environmental defenders. Colombia and the Philippines accounted for half of the 212 people killed last year, followed by Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala.
C) Turkey approves new social media law.
Turkey has adopted a new social media law on 29 July which critics say that it will create a chilling effect on dissenting voices who have resorted to Twitter and other online applications as the government tightened its command on the mainstream media. The law was backed by the AK Party of President Tayyip Erdogan and its nationalist allies so as to make foreign social media sites more authentic and accountable. It is required for them to appoint a local representative in order to address the concerns raised by the authorities. The law will allow Turkish authorities to remove content from platforms rather than blocking access as they have done in the past.
A) 4-year UG courses in, M.Phil. out in the new education policy.
The new National Education Policy which is approved by the Union Cabinet on 29 July will introduce a 4-year undergraduate degree with multiple entries and exit options, by abolishing the M.Phil. degree, and by establishing a common higher education regulator with fee fixation for both private and public institutions. It also ensures universalization of early childhood education from ages 3 to 6 by 2030, a new school curriculum with coding and vocational studies from Class 6, and a child’s mother tongue being used as the medium of instruction till Class 5. This is the first new education policy in the last 34 years and was a poll promise of the BJP in 2014. A panel that was headed by former ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan submitted a draft in December 2018, which was made public and opened for feedback after the Lok Sabha election in May 2019.