Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th August 2019

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  • August 13, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th August 2019



Arctic wildfires

Part of: Mains GS-II – Environmental Conservation

In News

  • Wildfires ravaging parts of the Arctic are threatening to accelerate the melting of ice and permafrost — the permanently frozen ground layer — releasing greenhouse gases stored for thousands of years.
  • Although wildfires are frequent in the northern hemisphere between May and October, scientists estimate the magnitude of this season’s burn is higher than any other in the 16-year-record
  • Fires are burning farther north, and scientists worry the forest fires are igniting peat fires. 
  • Peat stores large amounts of carbon, which is burning and releasing record amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.
  • As the planet warms, more and more frozen peat and permafrost has thawed, releasing large amounts of carbon. 
  • Permafrost: Frozen soil, rock and plant material remaining below 0oC for atleast two years. As permafrost thaws, microbes decompose organic material releasing Carbon dioxide and methane into atmosphere.


Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS III – Environment

In News

  • Tardigrades may have survived spacecraft crashing on moon
  • The Israeli spacecraft called Beresheet was meant to be the first private lander to touch down on the moon.  
  • However, mission controllers lost contact in April which led the spacecraft to crash onto moon.
  • Now it’s been revealed that the mission was carrying a cargo of dehydrated microscopic lifeforms known as tardigrades which may have survived the crash.
  • Tardigrades are a phylum of water-dwelling eight-legged segmented micro-animals. They are colloquially known as water bears or moss piglets
  • They are tiny animals that can withstand extreme temperatures, extreme dryness, and lack of food.
  • They can withstand both the vacuum of space, and pressure as powerful as that at the deepest point in Earth’s ocean. They are also resistant to radiation

Translocation of Buffaloes

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS II – Environmental Conservation

In News

  • Five female wild buffaloes will travel more than 1,500 km crossing five States from Manas National Park in Assam to the Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary in Chhattisgarh
  • This is being done to help revive the waning population of Chhattisgarh’s State animal and expand its territory across States.
  • With just nine buffaloes, including three females, left in the Udanti Wildlife sanctuary, their revival across central India, a historical habitat, rests on hassle-free translocation, successful breeding and subsequent restocking of other habitats in the region
  • The estimated population of the wild buffaloes (Bubalus arnee) in the Northeast is around 3,000-4,000, the largest in the country and accounting for 92% of the world population. 
  • It is listed under Schedule 1 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, and classified as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 


Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health 

In News

  • Cancer treatments will soon be covered under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)
  • PM-JAY is the Central Government’s health insurance scheme that aims to give medical cover to over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families of approximately 50 crore beneficiaries.
  • The scheme provides insurance coverage of up to ₹5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.
  •  So far, 16,000 hospitals have been empanelled, nearly 34 lakh beneficiaries have been admitted, and 9 crore e-cards have been issued.
  • Government figures note that the estimated number of people living with cancer stands at around 2.25 million, with over 11 lakh new cancer patients registered each year.
  • In India, the risk of developing cancer before the age of 75 years for males stands at 9.81% and females at 9.42%. Total deaths due to cancer in 2018 was 7,84,821 (Men: 4,13,519; Women: 3,71,302).
  • Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in India, followed by breast cancer and oral cancers.

Government realised that cancer care costs were causing massive financial crisis among people and thus aims to bring cancer within the fold of PM-JAY



Topic: general studies 4

  • Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

Rooting AI in ethics


  • A technology should be evaluated both on the basis of its utility and the intention of its creator.

We can intuitively recognise whether an action is ethical or not.

Let us look at the theoretical basis of understanding ethics with an example.

  • A cigarette company wants to decide on launching a new product, whose primary feature is reduced tar. It plans to tell customers that the lower tar content is a ‘healthier’ option. This is only half true. In reality, a smoker may have to inhale more frequently from a cigarette with lower tar to get the flavour of a regular cigarette.

Let us analyse this from three dominant ethical perspectives:

  • First, the egoistic perspective states that we take actions that result in the greatest good for oneself. The cigarette company is likely to sell more cigarettes, assuming that the new product wins over more new customers. From an egoistic perspective, hence, the company should launch the new cigarette.
  • Second, the utilitarian perspective states that we take actions that result in the greatest good for all. Launching the new cigarette is good for the company. The new brand of cigarette also provides a ‘healthier’ choice for smokers. And more choice is good for customers. Hence, the company should launch the product.
  • The egoistic and utilitarian perspectives together form the ‘teleological perspective’, where the focus is on the results that achieve the greatest good.
  • Third, the ‘deontological perspective’, on the other hand, focuses more on the intention of the maker than the results. The company deceives the customer when it says that the new cigarette is ‘healthier’. Knowingly endangering the health of humans is not an ethical intention. So, the company should not launch this cigarette.

The flawed facial recognition system:

  • In the context of Artificial Intelligence (AI), most commercially available AI systems are optimised using the teleological perspectives and not the deontological perspective. 

Let us analyse a facial recognition system, a showcase for AI’s success. 

  • An AI system introduced in 2015 with much fanfare in the U.S. failed to recognise faces of African Americans with the same accuracy as those of Caucasian Americans. 
  • Google, the creator of this AI system, quickly took remedial action. However, from a teleological perspective, this flawed AI system gets a go ahead. 
  • According to the 2010 census, Caucasian Americans constitute 72.4% of the country’s population. So an AI system that identifies Caucasian American faces better is useful for a majority of Internet users in the U.S., and to Google.
  • From a deontological perspective, the system should have been rejected as its intention probably was not to identify people from all races, which would have been the most ethical aim to have. 
  • Social media is not the only context where AI facial recognition systems are used today. These systems are increasingly being used for law enforcement. Imagine the implications of being labelled a threat to public safety just because limited data based on one’s skin colour was used to train the AI system

Ethical basis of AI

  • The ethical basis of AI, for the most part, rests outside the algorithm
  • The bias is in the data used to train the algorithm. It stems from our own flawed historical and cultural perspectives — sometimes unconscious — that contaminate the data. 
  • It is also in the way we frame the social and economic problems that the AI algorithm tries to solve.
  • An ethical basis resting on both teleological and deontological perspectives gives us more faith in a system. Sometimes, even an inclusive intention may need careful scrutiny. 
  • For instance, Polaroid’s ID-2 camera, introduced in the 1960s, provided quality photographs of people with darker skin. However, later, reports emerged that the company developed this for use in dompas, an identification document black South Africans were forced to carry during apartheid.


  • Understanding and discussing the ethical basis of AI is important for India. Reports suggest that the NITI Aayog is ready with a ₹7,500 crore plan to invest in building a national capability and infrastructure. 
  • The transformative capability of AI in India is huge, and must be rooted in an egalitarian ethical basis. 
  • Any institutional framework for AI should have a multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach, and have an explicit focus on the ethical basis.

Connecting the dots:

  1. With great power comes great responsibility. Technology is in itself just a tool; what matters is how we use it.” Discuss in the context of AI.
  2. Can Artificial Intelligence become a potential threat to economy? Examine.
  3. Disputes arising from Artificial Intelligence (AI) use are governed by archaic laws, which do not address issues like data privacy, consumer protection and labour liability. Comment.
  4. Means are as important as ends in ethics. Do you agree? Elucidate.


TOPIC: General studies 2 & 3

  • Important International institutions, agencies and forums, their structure, mandate.
  • Indian Growth & Economy
  • Economic Developments.

Global recession:


  • Researchers at Morgan Stanley have alerted that if US and China continue to heap increasing tariff and non-tariff barriers over the next four to six months, the world economy could enter a recession within the next three quarter.
  • The last massive downward spiral in the global economy happened in the wake of the great financial crisis of 2008 and continued till 2010.

What is a global recession?

  • In an economy, a recession happens when output declines for two successive quarters (that is, six months).
  • However, for a global recession, institutions such as the International Monetary Fund tend to look at more than just a weakness in the economic growth rate; instead, they look at a widespread impact in terms of the impact on employment or demand for oil etc. 
  • The long-term global growth average is 3.5 per cent. The recession threshold is 2.5 per cent.

What has triggered the alarm?

  • On August 1, trade tensions between the two biggest economies of the world escalated further when the US announced that it would impose 10 per cent tariff on imports from China. These measures are to come in to effect on September 1.
  • In retaliation, China threatened to take countermeasures. The US has also declared China a “currency manipulator”.
  • In other words, the US accuses China of deliberately weakening the yuan to make Chinese exports to the US more attractive and undercut the effect of increased tariffs that the US is employing.
  • The renewed trade tensions threaten to derail the already struggling global economy. 
  • For instance, the global manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index and new orders sub-index have contracted for the second consecutive month in July; they are already at a seven-year low. Further, the global capital expenditure cycle has “ground to a halt”; since that start of 2018, there’s been a sharp fall-off in nominal capital goods imports growth.
  • Central banks around the world are cutting interest rate in a bid to shore up global economic activity. To some extent, that cheap money policy is countering the adverse impacts of trade wars and all-round global uncertainty, thanks to Brexit and geopolitical tensions in West Asia, and between the US and North Korea.

How do higher tariffs affect growth?

  • According to Morgan Stanley, two-thirds of the goods being lined up for increased tariffs are consumer goods. 
  • Higher tariffs are not only likely to douse demand but, most crucially, hit business confidence. 
  • The apprehension is that the latest US tariffs and similar countermeasures by China could start a negative cycle wherein businesses do not feel confident to invest more, given the lower demand for consumer goods. 
  • Reduced capital investment would reflect in fewer jobs, which, in turn, will show up in reduced wages and eventually lower aggregate demand in the world.


  • What makes this scenario tricky is that fact that monetary policy is already loose. Ideally, the global economy should not risk reaching a recession at a time when the monetary levers may not have a lot to offer. In fact, at present, the trade tensions and uncertainty is negating the positives that a cheap money policy could provide to the world economy.

Connecting the dots:

  1. Discuss the global recession and its impact on various sectors of Indian economy


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)


  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements about Permafrost

  1. It is frozen soil, rock and plant material remaining below 0oC for at least two decades. 
  2. As permafrost thaws, microbes decompose organic material releasing Carbon dioxide and methane into atmosphere

Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) Consider the following statements about Tardigrades

  1. Tardigrades are a phylum of water-dwelling eight-legged segmented micro-animals commonly known as water bears or moss piglets
  2. They are rapidly disappearing from earth due to global warming as they are sensitive to temperature changes

Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3) Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary is located in which State of India?

  1. Orissa
  2. Madhya Pradesh
  3. Jharkhand
  4. Chhattisgarh

Q.4) Consider the following statements about Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana under Ayushman Bharat Yojana

  1. The scheme provides insurance coverage of up to ₹5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation
  2. It is a Central Sector Scheme with 100% contribution from Centre

Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2


A bitter harvest that we could still prevent

Live mint

Why lower fiscal deficit isn’t always good news 

The Indian Express

An abrogation of democratic principles 

The Hindu

There is a fundamental problem of demand today. 

The Indian Express

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