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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th April 2020

  • IASbaba
  • April 18, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th April 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


The National Cyber Coordination Centre issues guidelines against Zoom app

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Cybersecurity

In News:

  • The National Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord), under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), issued a set of guidelines for safe usage of Zoom – a web based video conferencing tool. 
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an advisory that the Zoom is not a safe platform.

Key takeaways:

  • USA based ZOOM video communication has seen an exponential rise in usage in India as office-goers remain at home owing to the present lockdown.
  • The software used in the online platform is said to be made in China and some calls were being routed through servers in China.

Important value additions:

The National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC)

  • The NCCC was developed in 2017.
  • It is an operational cybersecurity and e-surveillance agency in India. 
  • It is intended to screen communication metadata (little snippets of information hidden inside each communication) and co-ordinate the intelligence gathering activities of other agencies.
  • Some have expressed concern that the body could encroach on Indian citizens’ privacy and civil-liberties, given the lack of explicit privacy laws in the country.
  • Components of the NCCC include:
    • a cybercrime prevention strategy, 
    • cybercrime investigation training and 
    • review of outdated laws. 
  • Indian and U.S. intelligence agencies are also working together to curb misuse of social media platforms in the virtual world by terror groups

Zoom 

  • It is a web-based video conferencing tool with a local, desktop client and a mobile app that allows users to meet online, with or without video. 

Solid-state sensor to detect the heavy metal ions developed

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Science and Technology

In News:

  • Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS) has developed a compact solid-state sensor to detect the heavy metal ions in water.
  • The sensor can detect the heavy metal ions, e.g., lead ions (Pb2) down to 0.4 parts per billion (ppb) for efficient onsite detection.

Important value additions:

Heavy metal ions

  • Heavy metal ions such as lead, mercury and cadmium pose severe potential threats to living beings as they can easily be accumulated in the body.
  • They cannot be detoxified by any chemical or biological processes.

Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS)

  • It is an autonomous research institute under Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. 
  • DST provides core support to the Centre in the form of a grant-in-aid for conducting basic and applied research in nano and soft matter sciences. 
  • CeNS is located at Jalahalli, Bengaluru.
  • The current activities of the Centre are focussed on a variety of metal and semiconductor nanostructures, liquid crystals, gels, membranes and hybrid materials.
  • It is being mentored by Nano-Mission of the Government of India.

Trimeresurus Salazar: New Species of green pit viper found

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Biodiversity

In News:

  • A new species of green pit viper has been discovered in Arunachal Pradesh recently which was named Trimeresurus Salazar.
  • It has been collected from the Pakke Tiger Reserve in Pakke-Kessang district in Arunachal Pradesh. 

Important value additions:

Trimeresurus Salazar – Green pit viper

  • Green pit viper is a common name for several venomous snakes and may refer to:
    • Trimeresurus albolabris (native to southeastern Asia from India to China and Indonesia)
    • Trimeresurus macrops (native to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam)
    • Trimeresurus trigonocephalus (endemic to Sri Lanka)
    • And, now, newly discovered Trimeresurus Salazar (Arunachal Pradesh)
  • Salazar’s pit viper belongs to the genus Trimeresurus Lacépède.
  • They are morphologically and ecologically diverse species.
  • They are distinguished by their heat-sensing pit organs between the eye and the nostril.
  • IUCN status of Trimeresurus Salazar: yet to be known.
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th April 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th April 2020

Image Source: Click here


Miscellaneous

COVSACK

  • Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad under DRDO has developed COVID Sample Collection Kiosk (COVSACK) to combat Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • It is a kiosk for use by healthcare workers for taking COVID-19 samples from suspected infected patients. 
  • Patient under test walks into the Kiosk and a nasal or oral swab is taken by health care professional from outside through the built in gloves.
  • The Kiosk is automatically disinfected without the need for human involvement. 

Chitra GeneLAMP-N

  • Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, an Institute of National Importance, of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has developed a diagnostic test kit that can confirm COVID19 in 2 hours at low cost.
  • It detects the N Gene of SARS- COV2 using reverse transcriptase loop-mediated amplification of viral nucleic acid (RT-LAMP). 
  • It will be one of the world’s first few of its kinds in the world.
  • It can detect two regions of the gene, which will ensure that the test does not fail even if one region of the viral gene undergoes mutation during its current spread. 

Anastomosis 

 An anastomosis is a surgical connection between two structures. 

  • It usually means a connection that is created between tubular structures, such as blood vessels or loops of intestine. 
  • Severed hand of an assistant sub inspector in Punjab was recently re-implanted through the process of anastomosis. 

Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)

  • After leaving the ICU, some Covid-19 patients may suffer from post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). 
  • PICS is defined as new or worsening impairment in:
    • physical (ICU-acquired neuromuscular weakness),
    • cognitive (thinking and judgment),
    • mental health status. 
  • It arises after critical illness and persists even after getting discharged. 

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 

COVID-19: RBI announces second set of measures

Context: After its first relief package, RBI announced second set of measures to combat the lockdown impact on the economy

Relief measures announced by RBI are

  • Liquidity infusion of ₹1 lakh crore, of which 
    • ₹50,000 crore is exclusively for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), via banks through TLTROs
    • ₹50,000 crore to refinance agencies like NABARD, SIDBI and National Housing Bank.
  • Help for States: RBI has increased the ways and means advances (WMA) limits of States by 60%, over and above the level as on March 31, 2020.
  • Reserve repo rate reduced by 25 bps to 3.75%. — while keeping the repo rate unchanged 
  • An asset classification will be on standstill during the moratorium period for accounts that were not already NPAs as of March 1,2020
  • Accommodative on rates: RBI has indicated room for reduction in repo rate as inflation softens.

About TLTROs

  • These are Targeted Long Term Repo Operations
  • Repo rate is the rate at which Banks borrow from RBI. Generally, these loans are for short durations up to 2 weeks
  • LTRO is a tool that lets banks borrow one to three-year funds from RBI at the repo rate by providing government securities with similar or higher tenure as collateral.
  • It is called ‘Targeted’ LTRO when RBI wants banks opting for funds under this option to be specifically invested in Targeted Sector (Ex: Corporate debt, NBFC, MFI)

Impact of RBI’s actions

  • Liquidity enhancing measures will ease financial stress and help increase credit flows particularly to NBFC sector
    • The NBFCs have experienced liquidity shortage since banks had not offered them any moratorium for repayment
  • Housing sector: The soft loan to NHB should help bring down the cost of home loans
  • Small businesses can hope for some cheap credit from SIDBI, and the rural-agrarian community from NABARD.
  • Provides comfort to States to plan market borrowing programmes better and undertake better containment and mitigation efforts.
  • Avoids Lazy Banking: Reduction in repo rate will discourage banks from parking their excess liquidity with RBI
  • Relief to borrowers who were worried that opting for the moratorium may turn them into NPAs

Challenges Ahead

  • Implementation Challenges: With regard to TLTROs into NBFC, investment-grade NBFC assets will be harder to come by now, which will disincentivize the banks from engaging with TLTROs altogether
  • Insufficient: There is no buy-out of corporate bonds by RBI, and no big largesse for real estate developers
  • Muted demand in Housing sector, hence soft loans to NHB will not yield dramatic results.
  • Consequences of heightened liquidity like Inflation which needs to tackled in future

Way Ahead

  • Banks will have to be liberal in extending help for working capital loans and overdrafts to their borrowers, including MSMEs.
  • The government could help by extending a scheme of credit assurance cover that will encourage banks to be more liberal in their lending activity

Connecting the dots:

  • Priority Sector Lending
  • Impact of money supply on exchange rate

POLITY/ GOVERNANCE/ SOCIETY

Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

  • Devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 
  • The role of NGOs, SHGs and various groups

COVID-19: Social democracy and dividends for Kerala

Context: Kerala was the first State with a recorded case of coronavirus 

Given Kerala’s population density, deep connections to the global economy and the high international mobility of its citizens, it was primed to be COVID-19 hotspot.

However, Kerala has been able to effectively contain the pandemic leading to flattened coronavirus curve (refer the image below).

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th April 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th April 2020

Image Source: India Today

Kerala’s ability to effectively tackle crisis is attributed to its robust Social Democracy

What is Social Democracy and what are its features?

  • Social democracies are built on an encompassing social pact with a political commitment to providing basic welfare and broad-based opportunity to all citizens
  • It supports practical, progressive reforms of capitalism (free-market economy) and is more concerned to administrate and humanize it — a key difference with Socialism which detests free-market economy
  • The emphasis is on State interventions to promote Social Justice — a key difference with Capitalism
  • Presence of vibrant Civil Society and robust institutions that checks State’s actions
  • Values of Liberalism, tolerance and decentralisation is promoted
  • Treats people not as subjects or clients, but as rights-bearing citizens.
  • Social Democracy can thus be considered as mid-path between Socialism and Capitalism. 
  • Majority of countries in the world have adopted this model with the differing inclination towards free-market economy or State interference

How did Social Democratic Culture emerge in Kerala?

It emerged from recurrent episodes of popular mobilisation 

  • Temple entry movement of the 1930s
  • Peasant and workers’ movements in the 1950s and 1960s, 
  • Mass literacy movement in the 1980s, 
  • Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP)-led movement for people’s decentralised planning in the 1990s
  • Recent gender and environmental movements

Advantages of Social Democracy- which is reflected in the state of Kerala

  • Nurtures a strong sense of social citizenship 
  • Builds Institutions: Social Democracy drives reforms that strengthens the legal and institutional capacity for public action
  • Emphasis on rights-based welfare instead of clientele/patronage based welfare
  • Reinforces a vibrant, organised civil society which demands continuous accountability from authority
  • It pressures all governments, regardless of the political party in power, to deliver public services and to constantly expand the social safety net.
  • Pressurises to empower local government – Nowhere in India are local governments as resourced and as capable as in Kerala
  • Generalised Trust on the State, which enables heightened compliance with State’s directives

How was Kerala able to manage the pandemic effectively?

  • Due to its strong Social Democratic Culture, the government was able to
    • Convince citizens to comply with State’s directives (Enhanced Trust on State)
    • Quickly mobilise financial and societal resources – Announced COVID-19 package much ahead of National relief package 
    • Smoothly coordinate across multiple authorities and jurisdictions – Creation of State response team that coordinated 18 different functional teams
  • Effective Communication: Daily press conferences with the public by CM to ensure the connect with public and to remind the public that virus does not discriminate, destigmatising the pandemic.
  • Social Issue: Government emphasised lockdown response was less an enforcement issue than about people’s participation
  • Leverage a broad and dense health-care system: Despite the recent growth of private health services, Kerala has maintained a robust public presence. 
  • Taking into the confidence the front-line workers: Kerala’s public health-care workers are highly unionised and organised which made the government lay emphasis on protecting the health of first responders.
  • Highly mobilised civil society- As the cases multiplied, the government called on two lakh volunteers to go door to door, identifying those at risk and those in need.
  • Food Needs taken care of:  Government was able to deliver three lakh meals a day through Kudumbasree (Self-Help group) community kitchens 
  • Last Mile Care: Two decades of empowering local governments in Kerala enabled in focalising containment efforts in hotspots

Conclusion

  • The pandemic is a physical exam of the social body, and never has public trust been put to a greater test.
  • Kerala has managed the crisis by building on legacies of egalitarianism, social rights and public trust

Connecting the dots:

  • Socialism with Chinese characteristics
  • Delhi model of development (during AAP government’s tenure)  

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1 Consider the following statements:

  1. The National Cyber Coordination Centre is an e-surveillance agency in India. 
  2. It works under Minsitry of Defence.

Which of the 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:

  1. Heavy metal ions cannot easily be accumulated in the body.
  2. They can be detoxified by any chemical or biological processes.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.3 A new species of green pit viper has been found in which of the following tiger reserve?

  1. Manas Tiger Reserve
  2. Pakke Tiger Reserve
  3. Panna Tiger Reserve
  4. Kaziranga Tiger Reserve

Q.4 Consider the following statements regarding Chitra GeneLAMP-N:

  1. It detects the N Gene of SARS- COV2.
  2. It can detect two regions of the gene.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

 ANSWERS FOR 17th April 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D
3 A
4 A

Must Read

About Ethical Politics (focus on Tenth Schedule):

The Hindu

About IMD forecast system:

The Hindu

About Missing Parliament & Judiciary in COVID-19 crisis:

The Indian Express

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