Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - May 20, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.


The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, paid homage to Shri Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

About Neelam Sanjiva Reddy

  • Neelam Sanjiva Reddy(19 May 1913 – 1 June 1996) was the sixth President of India, serving from 1977 to 1982.
  • He was also the first Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, a two-time Speaker of the Lok Sabhaand a Union Minister—before becoming the youngest-ever Indian president.
  • As president, Reddy worked with Prime Ministers Morarji Desai, Charan Singh and Indira Gandhi.
  • Reddy was succeeded by Giani Zail Singhin 1982.

About his role in the Indian independence movement

  • Reddy joined the Indian struggle for independence from the British Raj following Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Anantapur in July 1929 and dropped out of college in 1931.
  • He was closely associated with the Youth Leagueand participated in a student satyagraha.
  • In 1938, Reddy was electedSecretary of the Andhra Pradesh Provincial Congress Committee, an office he held for ten years.
  • During theQuit India Movement, he was imprisoned and was mostly in jail between 1940 and 1945.
  • Released inMarch 1942, he was arrested again in August and sent to the Amraoti jail where he served time with activists T Prakasam, S. Satyamurti, K Kamaraj and V V Giri till 1945.
  • Reddy served thrice as President of the Indian National Congress at its Bangalore, Bhavnagar and Patnasessions during 1960 to 1962.

Source: PIB.

National Test Abhyas

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


  • Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank launched a new mobile app named - the ‘National Test Abhyas'.
  • The App has been developed by National Testing Agency-NTA to enable candidates to take mock tests for upcoming exams such as JEE Main and NEET under the NTA’s purview.

About the app

  • The app has been launched to facilitate candidates’ access to high quality mock tests as there was a demand for making up the loss to students due to closure of educational institutions and NTA’s Test-Practice Centers due to the lockdown.
  • Students across the country can use the App to access high quality tests, free of cost, in a bid to be fully prepared for the upcoming JEE, NEET and other competitive exams.
  • The tests can be easily downloaded.
  • This timely launch is designed to ensure that no student is left behind in getting exposure to practice testing, especially when student's loss due to closure of educational institutions is to be compensated.

Source: AIR.

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Focus: GS1.

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


US stock markets went soaring on the back of promising results from a vaccine against novel coronavirus disease developed by US pharmaceutical company Moderna.

About mRNA-1273
  • It is the working name of Moderna’s vaccine, which is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials under the aegis of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and led by Dr Anthony Fauci.
  • The mRNA in the name means messenger RNA, which carries the genetic formula for the coding of a specific protein.
  • In this vaccine, the particular mRNA used codes for the most distinguishing feature of the SARS-CoV2 — the spike protein — which is also the appendage that the virus uses to enter the cell and replicate.
  • The vaccine, when injected into a person, codes for the spike protein.
  • Thus even without the introduction of an attenuated (recognisable but not harmful) virus into the body, the body learns what the virus looks like and arms itself with the antibodies that are required to act against it.

About the promising results

  • Moderna has announced that the mRNA, on entering the body, had managed to show a degree of immune response in the first eight patients.
  • The results showed that even lower doses elicited an “immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection”.
  • Among the side-effects that were noted were chills and a little redness in the place where the injection had been given.
  • The participants received two doses of the vaccine; different doses were used to test the potency of the vaccine.
  • Two weeks after the second dose, even those on the lowest dose showed enough antibodies to raise hopes of being able to thwart an infection.
  • It was the same level of protection that people who have recovered from the infection show.
  • The group that got a higher dose had higher levels.

Source: Indian Express.

Malaysian palm oil

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.


India has started to buy Malaysian palm oil again after four months following a diplomatic row, with buying spurred by a fall in domestic inventories and discounted prices.


The renewed purchases come amid improving trade ties between the two nations following the formation of the Perikatan Nasional government, with Malaysia signing a deal last week to buy a record 100,000 tonnes of Indian rice.


  • Leading Indian importers agreed last week to buy up to 200,000 tonnes of crude palm oil from Malaysia, the world’s No. 2 producer after Indonesia, to be shipped next month and in July.
  • Port stocks have dropped sharply in India because of lower imports.
  • Ship-tracking data compiled by Refinitiv showed that India’s total palm oil imports for the first four months of this year fell by more than 50% to 1.11 million tonnes from the same period last year.
  • Reuters said a resumption of purchases by India, the world’s biggest edible oil importer, could further support Malaysian palm oil prices, which have edged up from 10-month lows in recent days.
  • It quoted an Indian edible oil refiner who contracted “a few vessels” for June shipment as saying the renewed buying has been spurred by low stocks, while India’s relations with Malaysia have been improving since the PN government was formed in early March.


  • Malaysia’s palm oil inventories jumped to more than 2 million tonnes in April, well above expectations, as production surged to a six-month high and Covid-19 lockdowns led to a slump in demand.
  • India buys more than 9 million tonnes of palm oil a year, accounting for nearly two-thirds of its total edible oil imports, and took a record 4.4 million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil in 2019.

Source: The Times of India.


Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


The Indian Railways has commissioned its most powerful locomotive till date - WAG 12 and it hauled 118 goods wagons from Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction to Barwadih via Dehri-on-Sone.


  • The Made-In-India locomotive was manufactured at the Madhepura Electric Loco Factory in Bihar, and was commissioned into service at the Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Jn Station yesterday (18 May).
  • After this development, India becomes just the sixth country in the world to produce high-horse power engine indigenously.
  • It is also the first time such a high horse powered engine has been operationalised on any broad gauge track in the world.

About WAG-12

  • The Madhepura Electric Loco Factory is capable of building 120 locomotives every year.
  • The factory will manufacture 800 such locomotives in the next 11 years.
  • It is expected to create more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.
  • The WAG-12 locomotive designed to haul freight, packs a whopping 12,000 horsepower and is capable of hauling loads up to 6,000 tonnes at a top speed of 120 kmph.
  • WAG-12 comes with a with twin Bo-Bo design and can be tracked through GPS with the help of an embedded software.
  • WAG-12 is capable of working on railway tracks with conventional OHE lines as well as on Dedicated Freight corridors with high rise OHE lines.
  • It has air-conditioned driver cabs on either side.
  • It is also equipped with regenerative braking system which provides substantial energy savings during operations.
  • These high horse power locomotives will help to decongest the saturated tracks by improving average speed of freight trains.
  • The locomotive thus is considered to be a game-changer for the soon upcoming dedicated freight corridors.

Source: Economic Times.


Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Sun cycle:
  1. Sun has a cycle that lasts on average 12 years.
  2. Every 12 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm which is called the solar minimum.
  3. While intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares subside during solar minimum, that doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull.

Select the incorrect answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. AOTA

Solution: A

2. Consider the following:

  • Sun has a cycle that lasts on average 11 years.
  • Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm which is called the solar minimum.

World Bee Day 2020theme is:
    1. Save the Bees
    2. Save the World
    3. Save the wildlife
    4. Save the Forests

Solution: A

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