Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

20th May Current Affairs


  1. A.P. gas leak: SC declines to interfere with NGT order
  2. UNODC: COVID-19 unlikely to affect illicit drug supply
  3. Hotter oceans spawn super cyclones
  4. India, U.S. to collaborate on COVID-19 vaccine trials
  5. Reform or face permanent funding cuts, Trump tells WHO
  6. Changed dynamic along India-China border
  7. Criteria for ‘medium’ MSME units to be revised
  8. India resumes import of Malaysian palm oil
  9. Man-made meteor shower to protect Earth from asteroids


Focus: GS-III Governance

Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court did not interfere on 19th May with an order passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
  • The NGT had ordered LG Polymers to pay ₹50 crore as interim compensation for the gas leak at its Visakhapatnam plant.
  • NGT also set up a five-member fact-finding committee to inquire into the incident leading to the death of several innocents.

Fact-finding committee

  • The NGT, on May 8, had appointed a committee to “specifically report on the sequence of events, causes of failure and persons and authorities responsible, extent of damage to life, human and non-human, public health and environment — including water, soil and air, steps to be taken for compensation of victims and restitution of the damaged property and environment and the cost involved”.
  • The NGT had also on May 8 issued formal notice to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Union Environment Ministry, seeking their responses.
  • A three-judge Bench was questioned how the NGT could take suo motu cognisance of the gas leak and form a fact-finding committee led by a former High Court judge, when the High Court was already seized of the matter.
  • The Supreme Court merely told the company to raise these questions when the case came up for hearing on June 1.

Click Here to Read More about the National Green Tribunal

Click Here to read more about the Vizag Gas Leak

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

A report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that Movement restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to an initial statistical reduction in drug seizures, but the Pandemic will not have a real change in terms of supply in the East and Southeast Asia region

Details of the report

  • The report said that not every fluctuation in terms of drug seizures, prices, drug-related arrests or deaths in the coming months would be a direct or indirect consequence of the outbreak.
  • Trafficking in the lower Mekong region also takes place in a variety of ways across borders which are porous and difficult to control, and cross-border movements in many places will not be significantly hindered by COVID-19 measures.
  • Extreme levels of synthetic drug production take place in the Southeast Asian region, partially due to a limited government control in the Golden Triangle (the area where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet).
  • Due to social distancing and movement restrictions in several countries, street dealing of drugs might be significantly impacted and altered.
  • Additional efforts would be required at the national, regional and international level to carefully analyse methods and trends to understand changes to drug markets in the wake of the pandemic.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a United Nations office that was established in 1997.
  • It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
  • It was established by merging the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention.
  • UNODC assists Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
  • UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from Governments, for 90% of its budget.
  • The World Drug Report is a yearly publication by UNODC that presents a comprehensive assessment of the international drug problem, with detailed information on the illicit drug situation.

Main themes that UNODC deals with

  1. Alternative Development, anti-corruption, Criminal Justice, Prison Reform and Crime Prevention, Drug Prevention
  2. Treatment and Care, HIV and AIDS
  3. Human Trafficking, Migrant Smuggling, Money Laundering, Organized Crime, Piracy, Terrorism Prevention.

The three pillars of the UNODC work programme are:

  1. Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance the capacity of Member States to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
  2. Research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions.
  3. Normative work to assist States in the ratification and implementation of the relevant international treaties, the development of domestic legislation on drugs, crime and terrorism, and the provision of secretariat and substantive services to the treaty-based and governing bodies.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-I Geography

Why in news?

Meteorologists and Atmospheric Science Experts say: Higher than normal temperatures in the Bay of Bengal (BoB) may be whetting ‘super cyclones’ and the lockdown, indirectly, may have played a role.

Super cyclone Amphan that is barrelling towards West Bengal is the strongest storm to have formed in the BoB since the Super Cyclone of 1999.

Warmer waters Leading to Super Cyclone

  • Cyclones gain their energy from the heat and moisture generated from warm ocean surfaces.
  • The BoB has posted record summer temperatures a fall-out, as researchers have warned, of global warming from fossil fuel emissions that has been heating up oceans.
  • Cyclone Amphan intensified from a category-1 cyclone to category-5 in 18 hours, an unusually quick evolution, fuelled by high temperatures in the BoB.

Lockdown impact

  • the elevated ocean temperatures this year could, in part, be explained by the lockdown.
  • Reduced particulate matter emissions during the lockdown meant fewer aerosols, such as black carbon, that are known to reflect sunlight and heat away from the surface.
  • Every year, increased particulate pollution from the Indo-Gangetic plains is transported towards the BoB and this also influences the formation of clouds over the ocean.

Click Here to Read more about the Formation of Tropical Cyclones

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • India and the U.S. plan to work together on vaccine research and testing for COVID-19.
  • U.S. and Indian scientists have been collaborating on key research questions fostering the development and testing of safe, cost-effective vaccines against a range of infectious diseases that could save innumerable lives in India, the United States, and around the world.

U.S. – India Collaboration in COVID-19 response


  • Under the Vaccine Action Programme (VAP) U.S. and India planning to collaborate on the development and testing of vaccine candidates and diagnostics for COVID-19,
  • The VAP, or the Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program, is a 33-year collaboration between the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) along with other partners.

U.S. funding Ventilators for India

  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding 200 ventilators given to India as announced by President Donald Trump.
  • These ventilators are part of $5.9 million in funding announced to date for India, and that amount is a part of a worldwide commitment of $900 million made by U.S. to be available for combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

CDC funds

  • The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said it would separately fund the Government of India $3.6 million to support “prevention, preparedness, and response activities in India, in collaboration with and concurrence from the GoI.”

Click Here to Read more about USAID

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The U.S. President Donald Trump told the World Health Organization (WHO) that the U.S. will make permanent its funding cuts to the organisation and consider leaving it, if it did not commit to “major substantial reform” within the next 30 days.

Background on Developments

  • Mr. Trump had temporarily stopped the funding on April and begun a review of the WHO’s handling of the pandemic.
  • Critics have argued that while WHO could have acted more decisively and quickly.
  • U.S. President and others in his administration have repeatedly criticised, particularly the global health body’s relationship to China.
  • Mr. Trump said the only way forward for the WHO would be to demonstrate independence from China.

Click Here to Read more about the Funding and Objectives of WHO

Click Here to Read more about the WHO and WHA

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

Indian and Chinese troops have been involved in as many as four incidents in recent weeks along the undefined LAC.

A greater capability by India to patrol up to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) coupled with an increasingly assertive Chinese posture is fuelling new tensions along the border, according to former senior Indian officials.

Frequent Face-off Incidents and Protocols

  • Face-off incidents occur routinely in the summer months when both sides are able to more frequently patrol up to their respective perceptions of the LAC.
  • Detailed protocols are in place for troops to handle such incidents.
  • According to the 2005 protocol on modalities for implementing confidence-building measures, neither “shall use force or threaten to use force” and “both sides shall treat each other with courtesy and refrain from any provocative actions”.
  • The 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement said patrols “shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in areas where there is no common understanding” of the LAC.

Possible Causes

  • These incidents were more likely fuelled by the on-the-ground dynamic than other geopolitical factors or tensions, such as India’s tightening of FDI from China or the COVID-19 pandemic
  • India has been upgrading its infrastructure along the border, thereby allowing troops to patrol with greater depth and frequency into areas where the Chinese had, by virtue of favourable terrain and better infrastructure, established a more frequent presence.
  • Clarifying perceptions of the LAC could help, but China has stalled the process.
  • If tactical imperatives are driving recent incidents, they could have strategic consequences.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

Days after changing the definition of MSMEs, the government has decided to further revise the criteria for medium-sized units by enhancing the investment and turnover limits to up to ₹50 crore and ₹200 crore respectively.

Background to changes in MSME definition

  • On 13th May 2020 a change in the definition of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) was announced.
  • As per the revised definition, any firm with an investment of up to ₹1 crore and turnover under ₹5 crore will be classified as ‘micro.’
  • A company with an investment of up to ₹10 crore and a turnover of up to ₹50 crore will be classified as ‘small’ and a firm with an investment of up to ₹20 crore and a turnover under ₹100 crore will be classified as ‘medium.’

Current Decision

  • For Medium Enterprises: The Rs. 20 crore investment Criteria is to be raised to up to ₹50 crore and turnover limit is to be raised to up to ₹200 crore.
  • The Ministry is also open to considering suggestions regarding enhancing the turnover limit to up to ₹250 crore for medium enterprises, and will take up the matter with the MSME Secretary.

Click Here to Read More about the Definition of MSMEs

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • Indian buyers have resumed purchases of Malaysian palm oil after a four-month gap following a diplomatic row, with buying spurred by a fall in domestic inventories and discounted prices.
  • The renewed purchases come amid improving trade relations between the two countries after the formation of a new government in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Malaysia signed a deal last in the 4th week of May to buy a record 1,00,000 tonnes of Indian rice, and Indian importers contracted up to 2,00,000 tonnes of crude palm oil from Malaysia.

Why had India restricted import of Palm oil from Malaysia?

  • The move is widely viewed as a retaliation against Malaysian Prime Minister who had criticised India’s internal policy decision of passing the Citizenship Amendment Act.
  • Since 2017, Malaysia has also been sheltering the Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is wanted by India on charges of money laundering, hate speech, and links to terror.
  • Indonesia and Malaysia together produce 85% of the world’s palm oil, and India is among the biggest buyers.
  • The then Malaysian PM had said that “Malaysia cannot retaliate against India because it is too small”, and since India restricted Palm Oil imports, which was its largest market, it lead to fall in Malaysian palm oil futures.

-Source: Times of India


Focus: GS-III Science and Technology, Prelims

Why in news?

If all goes according to plan, in September 2022, a NASA spacecraft, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, or DART, will slam into a space rock with the equivalent energy of three tonnes of TNT.

Why is DART going to slam into a space rock?

  • The goal is to nudge the orbit of its target object ever so slightly, a practice run to see if we could divert an asteroid from a catastrophic impact with our planet in the future.
  • The impact on that asteroid could produce the first meteor shower ever to result from human activities in space.
  • Observing the shower could let scientists on Earth study the composition of near-Earth asteroids.

Details of the Mission

  • NASA plans to launch the 500 kg DART spacecraft in 2021. Its target is Didymos, a pair of near-Earth asteroids that travel around the Sun together. DART is aiming for the smaller of the two, named Didymoon, which measures about 535 ft across and orbits the larger asteroid.
  • The force of the impact is expected to change Didymoon’s 11.92-hour orbit by about four minutes, a big enough change for telescopes on Earth to detect.
  • If it succeeds, the mission might help confirm that humanity’s best defence against a rogue asteroid is to bump it into another orbit away from Earth.

-Source: Economic Times

February 2024