1. All 645 Indian evacuees from Wuhan test negative for
According to the Union Health Minister, all 645 Indians who had been evacuated from China’s Wuhan city have tested negative for the Coronavirus.
Till February 6,1,38,750 passengers from 1,265 flights have been screened for the new coronavirus illness, but they have not detected any new case.
The Indians who had been evacuated from the epidemic hit Chinese city, Wuhan, have tested negative for the coronavirus. All the evacuees were kept in isolation wards at Army Base and ITBP camps.
So far, there have only been 3 cases in India of this deadly virus. They have all been reported from Kerala. All three were medical students who had been studying in Wuhan. They are now clinically stable.
510 samples were tested by ICMR network laboratories of which all had tested negative other than those 3 cases testing positive.
The health ministry, in coordination with central ministries, all states and Union territories is taking adequate measures to contain the spread of the new strain of coronavirus (nCoV) in India.
The Coronavirus has claimed 560 lives alone in China till now and has spread to more than a dozen of countries across the world. Wuhan has been the epicentre of the epidemic and the Chinese government has quarantined the region from other areas to stop the spread of the virus. Many countries have also cancelled their flights to China, fearing an outbreak of the virus.
2. Repo Rates to fall despite RBI’s status quo
Even though the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to maintain the current interest rates, it expects that a rise in inflation will impact repo rates. A 6-member Monetary Policy Committee of RBI came to this decision in a review meeting, the second where rates were kept unchanged.
The Bank has reduced rated by 135bps from February to October 2019, before it decided to hit pause in December’s policy review.
The rate in question here is the repo rate, the rate at which RBI lends money to commercial banks and begins the lending cycle for the country.
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said, “It has to be kept in mind that the central bank has several instruments that can be deployed to address the challenges that the economy currently faces in terms of the sluggishness in the growth momentum.”
The bank has taken up two measures to ease lending rates or repo rates:
I)Open a window to extend Rs 1 lakh crore to commercial banks at the current repo rate (5.15%)
II)Banks are exempted from maintaining a cash reserve ratio (at 4% of net demand) for home, auto and MSME loans.
3. Omar, Mehbooba booked under Public Safety Act
There is no respite from detention for former J&K Chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah. The two, who have been in detention since August 5 last year, have had their detentions extended under the Public Safety Act. The recently formed Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has invoked the act against them.
The territory has also booked senior party functionaries from their respective parties - Sartaj Madani from Mehbooba’s People Democratic Party (PDP) and General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar from Omar’s National Conference (NC).
The union territory government has booked the duo just a day before the period of their six-month detention was to come to an end. The move has created a political furore with Opposition parties at the Centre demanding that they be freed.
Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary, Deputy commissioner and District Magistrate of Srinagar has signed the police dossiers on Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti as a part of a procedure to detain them for another 3 months under PSA.
In August, the centre had invoked the same law to put Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah’s father under house arrest at his private residence at Gupkar Road. Both the ex CMs were detained under the section 107.
Legally, holding the duo under a detention for more than 6 months is untenable. That’s why they have now been booked under the PSA.
Ever since the removal of Article 370, the valley has been under a shutdown and curfew. The political leadership for the area has been detained, communications have been down and there has been an internet shutdown.
4. India to study air corridors with Central Asian countries
External Affairs minister S Jaishankar has said that India would explore an ‘air corridor’ with 5 Central Asian nations - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, for stronger trade ties and transport of goods.
He said this during the inaugural address of the India Central Asia Business Council.
The air corridor, on the lines of a similar set up with Afghanistan, would include regular cargo flights for faster movement of goods, like fresh fruits and agricultural produce between these countries. The MEA is also working on better trade via the Chabahar port in Iran.
The air corridor will significantly reduce transit time - the current time over land for containers is two months, which would be reduced to 2 hours. That will also boost trade of perishable goods, agricultural products and food products.
The over land trade transit also happen between Pakistan and faces barrier across Pak territory. Due to this trade between India and Central Asia is currently at a minimal $2 billion per year.
The Chabahar port is another way to circumvent the barriers in Pakistan, as it will allow Indian goods to reach Iran, Afghanistan and central Asian nations faster. The move, pointed by Jaishankar, also resonates with a 100-crore investment plan under Budget 2020 to develop the Iranian port.
Currently, most of the trade between Central Asia and India happens via Bandar Abbas in Iran, Europe or China. The government has been working on more direct routes with the region for some time.
5. Vodafone Idea closes down Idea postpaid
Telecom operator Vodafone will drop the brand name ‘Idea’ from its postpaid services. Prepaid customers however will continue to have the service on the name of both Vodafone and Idea brands.
Vodafone India and Idea cellular merged their mobile business in August 2018 to create Vodafone Idea Ltd. Both the brands are synchronising their entire business. The move to migrate postpaid customers to Vodafone Red is a part of the company’s synergy plan.The change is applicable to enterprise Idea postpaid customers as well.
Prepaid products will continue to be offered under both Idea and Vodafone brands nationally across all the circles via retail and digital channels to give customers a rich portfolio of services and benefits under their preferred brand name. All the customers of Idea Nirvana, the postpaid offering under the Idea brand will be migrated to Vodafone RED plans.
Beginning with Mumbai,this initiative will be rolled out in phased manner to cover all the circles over the next few months.There will be no change in pricing as both the brands offer the same tariff structure.
The company is already under debt,so the move will bring down marketing and general expenses.The company already posted a loss of Rs 50,922 crore in the September quarter. The announcement for the same comes a day after UK based Vodafone group said the Outlook for Vodafone idea ltd, its Telecom venture with Aditya Burla group in India remains critical and the company is seeking relief from the Indian government.
6. Senate acquits President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump will continue as the American president, after he was cleared by the Senate from charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Republican-led Senate acquitted him by voting 52 against 48.
The President had been impeached by the House of Representatives five months ago. Republican senator Mitt Romney had voted with the Democrats, against Trump.
Trump had been impeached by the Democrat-led House of Representatives for conditioning a $391 military assistance to Ukraine. This was believed to be quid pro quo after the Ukrainians had announced a public investigation against his rival and former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
There has been speculation that though the Republic Party is aware of the transgressions, they would stand in solidarity with the President and ensure that he stays in his position.
All The Best To All The UPSC 2020 Aspirants !