9 PM Current Affairs Brief – April 30th, 2020

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India remains on U.S. Priority Watch List

News:The US has again placed India on the Priority Watch List for lack of sufficient measurable improvements to its Intellectual Property framework that have negatively affected American right holders over the past year.


  • Priority Watch List and Watch List countries are identified by the annual Special 301 Report.
  • Priority Watch list countries-These are those countries that are having serious intellectual property rights deficiencies and require increased United States Trade Representative(USTR) attention.
  • Watch List countries –These countries are having serious intellectual property rights deficiencies but are not yet placed on the Priority Watch list.
  • Countries under Priority Watch list:Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela.
  • Implications:The countries under the priority watch list will be the subject of increased bilateral engagement with the USTR to address Intellectual Property(IP) concerns.

Additional Facts:

  • Intellectual Property Rights(IPR):These are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds.They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.
  • Types of IPR: Copyright, Trademark, Patents, Industrial Design and Geographical Indication.

Task Force on NIP submits final report to Finance Minister

News:The Task Force on the National Infrastructure Pipeline(NIP) for 2019-25 has submitted its Final Report to the Finance Minister.


  • National Infrastructure Pipeline(NIP): It is the investment plan unveiled by the Central Government for enhancing infrastructure in identified sectors for a period of five years from 2020-25 with the aim to help India reach a $5 trillion economy by 2025.
  • Task Force: Government of India has constituted a task force chaired by Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs,Ministry of Finance to prepare a roadmap for NIP.

Key Recommendations:

  • Investment: It has projected an investment of around Rs.111 lakh-crore during financial year 2020-25.
  • Funding: Centre – 39%, States – 40% and Private Sector – 21%.
  • Sector wise investment: Energy(24%), Roads(18%), Urban(17%), Railways(12%).
  • Progress of Projects:a) Projects under implementation- Rs 44 lakh crore b) Projects at Conceptual Stage- Rs 33 lakh crore c) Projects under development- Rs 22 lakh crore.
  • Measures suggested: a) Aggressive push towards asset sales b) Monetisation of infrastructure assets c) Setting up of development finance institutions and d) Strengthening the municipal bond market.
  • Committees suggested: a) Committee to monitor NIP progress to help eliminate delays b) Steering Committee in each infrastructure ministry level for following up implementation and c) Steering Committee in Department of Economic Affairs(DEA) for raising financial resources for the NIP.

Jharkhand’s chhau dancers and artisans take a battle stance against COVID-19

News:In Jharkhand, Chhau Dancers are making traditional masks to fight against COVID-19 instead of celebrating chhau Dance.


  • Chhau dance is a tradition from eastern India that enacts episodes from epics including the Mahabharata and Ramayana, local folklore and abstract themes.
  • Its three distinct styles hail from the regions of Seraikella (Jharkhand), Purulia (West Bengal) and Mayurbhanj (Odisha), the first two using masks.
  • The origin of the dance is traceable to indigenous forms of dance and martial practices.It is also intimately connected to regional festivals notably the spring festival Chaitra Parva.
  • The dance is performed at night in an open space to traditional and folk melodies played on the reed pipes mohuri and shehnai.
  • In 2010,it was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Raja Ravi Varma, the painter who helped Indians bring their gods home

News: 29th April is the birth anniversary of the famed Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma(1848-1906).


  • Raja Ravi Varma was born in Travancore (Kerala).He was patronised by Ayilyam Thirunal, the then ruler of Travancore.


  • He is remembered for giving Indians their western, classical representations of Hindu gods and goddesses.
  • He gave birth to affordable sacred images that can be found in puja rooms, public spaces and homes.
  • He was one of the first Indian artists to use oil paints and to master the art of lithographic reproduction of his work.
  • Famous works:Damayanti Talking to a Swan, Shakuntala Looking for Dushyanta, Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair, Shantanu and Matsyagandha.


  • In 1873, the painting of Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair won the Governor’s Gold Medal when it was presented in the Madras Presidency.
  • In 1904, the British colonial government awarded Varma with the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal.
  • In 2013, a crater on the planet Mercury was named in his honour.

APEC economy to reduce by 2.7% in 2020

News:According to the APEC Secretariat, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region is expected to post a 2.7% economic decline in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19.


  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC): Itis a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.
  • Aim: To create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
  • Members:  21 members
  • Headquarters: Singapore
  • Indiais not a member of APEC.
  • Bogor Goals: Theseare a set of goals agreed by APEC members in 1994 in Bogor,Indonesia with the aim of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by the year 2020.

Electrostatic Disinfection Technology Transferred for Commercialization

News: CSIR-Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIR-CSIO), Chandigarh, designed and developed Electrostatic Disinfection Technology.


  • Electrostatic Disinfection Machine is based on the electrostatic principle.
  • Use: It produces uniform and fine spray droplets of disinfectants to kill microorganisms and viruses.
  • Significance: It is found to be efficient and effective in stopping the spread of coronavirus and other pathogens.

Additional Facts:

Electrostatic: It deals with the phenomena and properties of stationary or slow-moving electric charges. The electrostatic force between two charges is proportional to the product of the charges divided by the square of the distance between them.

HCARD, a robot, to assist frontline COVID-19 healthcare warriors

News: Durgapur-based CSIR lab, Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute developed Hospital Care Assistive Robotic Device (HCARD)


  • HCARD is a robotic device. It can work both in automatic as well as manual modes of navigation
  • Significance:Effective for frontline healthcare officials dealing with COVID-19 patients in delivering services while maintaining mandatory physical distancing.

Disasters, conflicts triggered 5 mln displacements in India in 2019

News: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) released report titled ‘The Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2020)


  • GRID provides data and analysis on internal displacement. It breaks down internal displacement data by conflict, violence and disasters across 145 countries.

GRID 2020- Key takeaways:

  • Global:7 million people were internally displaced as a result of conflict and violence. 5.1 million were displaced because of disasters.
  • India: Nearly 5 million people were displaced in India in 2019 — the highest in the world. Displacements in India were due to increased hazard intensity, high population and social and economic vulnerability

NEET applies to minority colleges: SC

News:The Supreme Court ruled that the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is mandatory for admission to medical colleges run by religious and linguistic minority communities.


Background: Minority educational institutions had filed petitions arguing that imposition of NEET would violate their fundamental rights of religious freedom, to manage their religious affairs, to administer their institutions.

Key takeaways from SC Judgement:

  • The rights available under Article 30 are not violated by introduction of NEET.
  • NEET is important for better administration in view of many instances of maladministration by several private colleges.
  • Minority institutions are equally bound to comply with conditions imposed under the relevant Acts and Regulations to enjoy affiliation and recognition.

Additional Facts:

Minority Educational Institution:  It is a college or institution established or maintained by a person or group of persons from amongst the minorities.

Constitutional safeguard: Article 30(1) gives linguistic and religious minorities a fundamental right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions:

  • It is a statutory body established in 2004 by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act.
  • Its main responsibility is to safeguard the educational rights of the minorities enshrined in Article 30(1).
  • It is important to note that the linguistic minorities do not come under the ambit of the NCMEI Act, 2004.
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