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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st April 2020

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  • April 21, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st April 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Reverse Repo Rate reduced by RBI

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy 

In News:

  • RBI has reduced the reverse repo rate by 25 bps from 4 % to 3.75% recently. 

Key takeaways:

  • Previously, the RBI used its repo rate as the main instrument to adjust the interest rates. 
  • Presently, it is making change to the reverse repo rate to set the benchmark.
  • The idea is to discourage banks from keeping surplus funds with itself and from lending their funds to the RBI to make profits. 
  • This practice hurts the economy and starves the businesses that genuinely need funds. 

Important value additions:

  • The repo rate is the rate at which the RBI lends money to the banks for short durations. 
  • The reverse repo rate is the rate at which banks lend their money to the RBI.
  • When the economy is growing, the repo rate is the benchmark interest rate in the economy and it also forms the floor rate for all other interest rates in the economy.
  • Since, India’s economic growth has decelerated sharply since last two years and banks are not lending to businesses, because banks are too risk-averse to lend and also, the overall demand from the businesses has decreased
  • In order to change this trend, the RBI has cut the reverse repo rate more than the repo twice in the spate of the last three weeks.

Study on the gamma-ray flux variability nature conducted 

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

In News:

  • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, have conducted the first systematic study on the gamma-ray flux variability nature on different types of blazars.

Key takeaways:

  • At the center of most galaxies, there’s a massive black hole which can have mass of millions or even billions of Suns that gather gas, dust, and stellar debris around it due to the force of gravity.
  • As these materials fall towards the black hole, their gravitational energy gets converted to light forming active galactic nuclei (AGN)
  • A minority of AGN (~15%) emit accurately parallel charged particles called jets travelling at speeds close to the speed of light. These are known as Blazars.

Important value additions:

Blazars

  • Blazars are AGN whose jets are aligned with the observer’s line of sight. 
  • Some blazars are thought to host binary black holes in them. 
  • They could also be potential targets for future gravitational-wave searches.
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st April 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st April 2020

Image source: Click here 


India ranks top in the list of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Society

In News:

  • In a global compilation of reports of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) found online, India stands on top of the list, with 11.7% of the total reports followed by Pakistan, which contributes 6.8% of all reports. 

Key takeaways:

  • The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) urges people to report CSAM found online across the world annually, on their online platform CyberTipline.
  • Three of the top four countries were in South Asia, raising concerns about the online safety of children in the region. 
  • Bangladesh comes in fourth with a share of 3.3%. 

Important value additions:

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

  • It is a private, nonprofit organization established in 1984 by the United States Congress. 
  • NCMEC handles cases of missing or exploited children from infancy to young adults through age 20.
  • The NCMEC operates the CyberTipline which was established by Congress to process reports of child sexual exploitation. 
  • Anyone can make a report to the CyberTipline but reporting is required for certain electronic service providers (ESP) who become aware of the presence of child pornography on their systems. 

Miscellaneous 

Types of Human Coronaviruses 

Till date, seven different types of coronaviruses have been identified that infect humans:

229E: One of the first coronaviruses strains to be described in the mid-60s, possibly by D Hamre and JJ Procknow in 1966.

OC43: It was discovered in 1967 according to the Journal of Virology. 

NL63 and HKU1: It were first identified in the Netherlands in 2004, probably after it was isolated from a seven-month-old infant showing respiratory symptoms. 

SARS-CoV: It was identified in 2003 in China (animal source is not yet known, bats are thought to have given it to other animals, probably civet cats). 

MERS: It was identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia (transmitted by dromedary camels). 

SARS-CoV-2: It was identified in 2019 in Wuhan (source not yet known, possibly bats). 


(MAINS FOCUS)


SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 1 & 2:

  • Social empowerment; Role of Women & Women’s organisations
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Gender in the times of Crisis

Context: The traditional gender role that women play affects them uniquely in global crises and thus requires a measured societal & government response

What is the experience with regard to gender during crisis?

  • Vulnerability to deaths: Women lack many life skills such as swimming and climbing 
  • Gender insensitive Temporary facilities: Women face hygiene challenges in shelter camps set up post-calamities
  • Difficulties in Post-crisis rehabilitation: Slowdown leaves women with additional wage cuts post crisis especially when pay disparity between genders is a norm.
  • Loss of livelihoods: Women are also engaged in post-calamity care, missing job opportunities. 

Issues faced by women during this pandemic

  • Increased Disease vulnerability: According to WHO around 70% of the world’s health workers are women, 79% of nurses are women.
  • Attack on women workers: There are incidents where ASHA workers, who work at the ground level in tracing & tracking epidemic spread, are attacked while on COVID-19 duty, primarily due to fake news/rumours
  • Increased instances of sexual abuse & gender violence during lockdown when men don’t have access to alcohol and thus vent out their frustration on women.
  • Entrenchment of Patriarchy: Even in households where both partners work, during the lockdown, women not only Work from Home but also have additional household work
  • Psychological anxiety: The fear of job loss and reduced income can create mental pressure on women
  • Culture of silence: Hormone-induced depression, Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) pregnancy-related depressive conditions, postpartum depression are some of the health issues that gets intensified during lockdown. This is because both men & women are trained to follow the culture of silence regarding these issues

Way Ahead

  • Assigning ASHA workers to specifically address women’s welfare during this pandemic
  • Grievance redressal platforms: Setting up exclusive cells to quickly address domestic violence and women’s health-related issues, 
  • Awareness: Including men in conversations to make them sensitive about women issues
  • Gender-inclusive helplines: When only women attend women distress calls, there is reinforcing of stereotypical ‘care-giver’ role of women.
  • Need to develop a culture of including women’s safety in the planning phase itself irrespective of whatever the nature of the crisis is.

Connecting the dots:

  • Measures taken by government regarding women welfare
  • Gender Budgeting

GOVERNANCE/ SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

  • Parliament and State legislatures—conduct of business 
  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 

Online Parliamentary Functioning

Context: In the wake of lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic and the next session of Parliament a few months away, there is an opportunity for holding an online session should the need so arise.

Do You Know?

  • For the very first time, 12 MPs of the joint committee on salary and allowances met virtually (online) on 6th April 2020 and recommended 30% reduction in the constituency and office allowances of MPs
  • Unlike other Parliamentary Committees, this committee was set up in 1954 under the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act

Is Parliament mandated to meet physically?

  • No, Indian parliamentary rules do not require MPs to meet physically at the Parliament House.
  • The only requirement for a duly constituted sitting of a house is that it be presided over by the chairman/speaker or any authorised MP. 
  • On matters which are not apparent in the rules, Chairman/Speaker have the residuary power to decide on them.

Importance of Parliamentary Committees

  • The working of these committees ensure that legislature keeps the executive accountable even when the Parliament is not in session
  • These have regained Significance during the lockdown
    • Two committees are scrutinising pending bills on issues related to labour and regulation of personal data. 
    • Both these issues are important and have gained prominence during the ongoing pandemic
  • The Speaker has the discretion to allow the parliamentary committees to meet outside the House or meet virtually so as to ensure accountability in governance

What has been the trend in other countries?

Across the world, legislatures are using a combination of technology, physical separation and reduced physical presence to continue their work

  • Brazil: Its parliament passed a resolution to work remotely during the public health emergency. 
  • Chile: The Senate has passed a law to allow it to meet remotely using appropriate video conferencing technology. 
  • In Indonesia and Maldives, a sitting of the parliament has happened remotely. 
  • UK has suggested a hybrid model of virtual and physical presence. 
    • Some MPs can participate in certain house proceedings via video conferencing 
    • While few of them can be in the house physically under social distancing guidelines.

Merits of Online Parliamentary Proceedings

  • Saves travel time for legislators
  • Saves financial resources spent on housing & travel allowances
  • Works as a role model to adopt digital technologies
  • Allows more time for legislators to interact with their constituency

Challenges with regard to Online Parliamentary Proceedings

  • Robust technology which works without much interruption
  • Need for setting up of protocols for ensuring participation
  • Cyber security issues 
  • Inadequate digital infrastructure especially in Tribal & North-East region

Connecting the dots:

  • Digital India Programme
  • Issue of Net neutrality

(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 With regard to Indian economy consider the following statements:

  1. The repo rate is the rate at which the RBI borrows money from the banks for short durations. 
  2. The reverse repo rate is the rate at which RBI lends money to the banks.

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 regarding blazars:

  1. Blazars are AGN whose jets are aligned with the observer’s line of sight. 
  2. Some blazars are thought to host binary black holes in them.

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 Which of the following South Asian country tops the list of recently-released global compilation of Child Sexual Abuse Material?

  1. India 
  2. Bangladesh 
  3. Pakistan 
  4. Sri Lanka

Q.4 With regard to human coronaviruses, which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. NL63 and HKU1 were first identified in Netherland.
  2. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was transmitted to humans from dromedary Camels.

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 20th April 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 A
3 D
4 C

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