Current Affairs in Short: 14 May 2020
President Ram Nath Kovind has decided to take 30 percent salary cut for himself in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic.
WTO Chief likely to step down early
• Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, the head of the World Trade Organization is likely to step down earlier than planned.Azevedo has summoned a virtual meeting to inform national members on May 14, 2020.
• The 62-year-old has been the Director-General at the Geneva-based WTO since 2013. His second term of office was due to conclude at the end of August 2021.
• The heads of delegations of the WTO's 164 members have been called for a special meeting to inform them about "pressing WTO administrative issues".
President takes 30 percent salary cut, announces austerity measures to fight coronavirus pandemic
• President Ram Nath Kovind has decided to take 30 percent salary cut for himself in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic. The President has also announced certain austerity measures to support the government's fight against the deadly outbreak.
• The domestic tours and programmes of the President will be reduced substantially to follow social distancing restrictions and minimise expenditure.
• The consumption during ceremonial occasions such as state banquets will also be minimised by keeping smaller guest lists, reducing the food menu and lesser usage of flowers and other decorative items.
• The President has also decided to postpone the purchase of the Presidential Limousine, which was to be used for ceremonial occasions. The repair work in the Rashtrapati Bhavan will also be minimised to only ensure the proper upkeep of assets.
China rejects US claim of attempted vaccine theft
• China on May 14, 2020 accused the United States of smearing China after it alleged that Chinese hackers were trying to steal research on developing a vaccine against the coronavirus.
• The attempted vaccine theft claims have added to the rising tension between the two nations, which are already at loggerheads after US President Dobald Trump claimed that he has evidence that the deadly coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan.
• The US authorities claimed on May 13, 2020 that Chinese hackers were trying to obtain data on coronavirus treatments and vaccines. The US warned that the effort involved Chinese government-affiliated groups and others and that it posed a "significant threat" to the US response to COVID-19.
• China responded by expressing strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to such smearing. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that judging from past records, the US has carried out the largest cybertheft operations worldwide.
Formula One Champion Sebastian Vettel to leave Ferrari at end of F1 season
• Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel will be leaving Ferrari at the end of the F1 season. The announcement was made by Ferrari on May 12, 2020.
• The Italian team’s principal Mattia Binotto said in a statement that the decision was taken jointly by the team and Sebastian and both parties feel that it is for the best. He stated that it was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian's worth as a driver and as a person.
• Sebastian Vettel had joined Ferrari in 2015 to follow the footsteps of Michael Schumacher in winning titles with F1’s oldest and most glamorous team.
• It is not clear whether the Vettel will join another team and remain in the sport. The F1 season for the year 2020 is yet to start, it had gotten delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Vijay Mallya loses leave to appeal in UK Supreme Court
• Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya on May 14, 2020 lost his application seeking leave to appeal in the UK Supreme Court. This comes weeks after the London High Court rejected his appeal against an extradition order by India on charges of fraud and money laundering.
• Mallya had 14 days to file this application to seek permission to appeal at the Supreme Court on the High Court’s April 20 judgment. The High Court in its judgement had dismissed his appeal against Westminster Magistrates' Court extradition order certified by the UK Home Secretary.
• The latest ruling will now go back for re-certification and the process of extradition will be triggered within 28 days. Mallya is facing charges of money laundering in India in relation to the unrecovered loans of his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.