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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th April 2020

  • IASbaba
  • April 24, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th April 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Role of Nano Mission Programme during COVID-19 pandemic

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

In News:

  • As part of Nano Mission programme, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has approved support for upscaling an antiviral nano-coatings developed by a Professor of IIT, Delhi. 
  • The nano-coatings will be used as appropriate material for producing anti-COVID-19 Triple Layer Medical masks and N-95 respirator in large quantities.

Key takeaways:

  • The N9 blue nanosilver, which is a highly potent antimicrobial agent, will be used as  nano-material. 
  • The N9 blue nanosilver will be further modified to form nanocomplexes with Zinc compounds to achieve a greater effect. 
  • Further, these nanomaterials will be applied as coatings on facemasks and other PPEs so that the wearer is protected from accidental contamination from COVID-19 virus droplets. 
  • The use of highly effective antimicrobial nanoparticles on PPEs, masks etc. will provide an extra layer of protection for frontline workers who are at greater risk of getting infected with COVID-19, such as the medical workers.

Important value additions:

Nano Mission

  • The Government of India launched the Nano Mission in 2007 as an umbrella capacity-building programme.
  • It is being implemented by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • The objectives of the mission are:
    • Basic research promotion
    • Infrastructure development
    • Nano applications and technology development
    • Human Resource development
    • International collaborations
  • Today, India is amongst the top five nations in the world in terms of scientific publications in nanoscience and technology (3rd position).
  • The Nano Mission has led to laying down a National Regulatory Framework Road-Map for Nanotechnology (NRFR-Nanotech).

Sepsivac®: an immunomodulator to enhance innate immunity

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

In News:

  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has decided to develop/repurpose an approved immunomodulator, Sepsivac®, 
  • It will enhance innate immunity of the body which will limit the spread of COVID-19 and fasten the recovery of the patients of COVID-19. 

Key takeaways:

  • Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the new clinical trials for the immunomodulator
  • The trials will also be held for evaluating the efficacy of the drug for reducing mortality (deaths) in critically ill COVID-19 patients. 
  • The drug  is being developed by CSIR through its flagship New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) program.
  • Sepsivac® is expected–
    • to protect the close contacts of COVID-19 patients and health care staff by boosting their innate response. 
    • to provide quicker recovery to the hospitalized COVID-19 patients, who are not critically ill. 
  • Sepsivac® contains heat-killed Mycobacterium W (Mw).  
  • No systemic side effects are associated with its use. 

Important value additions:

Innate immunity 

  • Natural defense mechanism of the body is known as innate immunity. 
  • It plays a key role in the fight against viral infections like COVID-19. 
  • It is a fast, first and efficient immune response for identifying and eliminating viruses. 
  • Cells of human immune system like Macrophages, NK cells offer such protection. 

Immunomodulators

  • They are medications used to help regulate or normalize the immune system.

New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI)

  • It is the largest public-private-partnership effort within the Research & Development field in the country. 
  • NMITLI seeks to act as a catalyst in innovation-centered scientific and technological developments and to help Indian industry achieve a global leadership position. 

Drugs Controller General of India

  • It is responsible for approval of licences of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, IV fluids, vaccines, and sera in India. 
  • It comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. 
  • DCGI sets standards for manufacturing, sales, import, and distribution of drugs in India. 

Miscellaneous 

Noor

  • Iran recently announced that it had successfully launched Noor, the nation’s first military satellite.
  • The satellite, dubbed “Noor” or light, was sent into orbit using a long-range rocket.
  • Such a launch raised concerns among experts on whether the technology used could help Iran develop intercontinental ballistic missiles
  • This is another move in the fight between U.S and Iran over the regime’s missile programs. 

Reliance Jio-Facebook deal 

  • Recently, Facebook has acquired a 9.99 % stake in Reliance Industries’ Jio Platforms making it the largest FDI for minority investment in India. 
  • Jio Platforms is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited which is responsible for digital apps, digital ecosystems and the mobile service.
  • It marks Facebook’s formal entry into India’s telecom sector.
  • Facebook has also become one of the biggest foreign investors in India’s technology space.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 

COVID-19 and FDI Policy

Context: India amended its FDI policy to put a blanket ban on investments through the automatic route by entities from countries that share a border with India.

India’s FDI policy

  • foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment in the form of a controlling ownership in a business in one country by an entity based in another country.
  • India’s FDI policy allows foreign investment in certain sectors under the automatic route. 
  • 100% FDI is permitted under the automatic route in manufacturing, oil and gas, greenfield airports, construction, railway infrastructure etc. 
  • In other sectors, FDI is allowed under the automatic route upto a certain threshold, say 26% or 49%.

Most FDI flows into India are under the automatic route, which means companies only need to inform authorities after the investment is made

Critical Analysis of the action taken by government:

  1. Provides safety net for Indian Companies: Economic slowdown due to COVID-19 has led to decreased valuation of firms making it vulnerable to hostile takeover by other
  2. Aimed at China: To ward off opportunistic takeover of Indian Companies by China
  3. Prevents Misuse: The ban also extends to entities where Chinese citizens have “beneficial ownership” to ensure that the restrictions are not circumvented by routing investments via Hong Kong, Singapore or other countries.
  4. Following Global trend: similar barriers erected by other countries like Germany, Italy, Spain etc. to block predatory capital from China. 
  5. Doesn’t Extend to all countries: Government does not want to be seen as having turned protectionist and insular. 
  6. Change in government’s strategy: In recent years India courted investments from China to counter the widening trade deficit with it.
  7. Fear of Chinese domination: The Chinese have already restarted manufacturing when the rest of the world still grappling with coronavirus thus giving them several months’ advantage
  8. The action signals India’s intent of not separating commerce and security in dealing with China
  9. Increasing divergence with China: India opposed China’s Belt and Road Initiative and walked out of the RCEP negotiations citing the trade imbalance with China.

Conclusion

Even though foreign investments are needed for country’s growth prospects but that should come at the cost of our National Security interests.

Connecting the dots:

  • Difference between FDI and FII
  • G20, FATF and WTO – that deal with foreign flows of funds

MODERN HISTORY/ETHICS/GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 1 & 4:

  • Modern Indian history 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world. 

Gandhi’s philosophies in the times of COVID-19 Crisis

Context: The crisis created by western socio-economic model (based on profits & consumerism) has revived the significance of Gandhian philosophy

Some of the Gandhian principles which hold true in present times are:

  1. Swadeshi – Which emphasises indigenisation and reduces the dependence on other
    • Global dependence on China has made this pandemic & its recovery difficult for Nations
  1. Swachhata
    • Gandhi practise and promoted personal hygiene and community sanitation, which has been advocated as Social Vaccine during this pandemic
  1. Sarvodaya– i.e. development of all
    • Adhering to this would principle would have mitigated the troubles faced by migrants & poor during lockdown
  1. Glocalisation 
    • Gandhi emphasised on learning to experience the entire world within the precincts of our immediate village or neighbourhood 
  1. Sustainable Living: 
    • Gandhi advocated to live in harmony with our environment, eschewing exploitative practices as far as possible.
  1. Regenerating our rural economy:
    • It is the urban areas which are facing the brunt of pandemic and dependence on them endangering rural areas as well.
  1. Emphasis on Ethics: 
    • Gandhi called for integrating economics, politics and technology with ethics. 
    • If China was prompt about the initial outbreak of disease in Nov 2019, much of the damage could have been avoided

Conclusion

Gandhi’s thoughts and philosophies are more relevant now than ever.

Connecting the dots:

  • Gandhi’s Trusteeship model of economic development
  • Difference between Gandhiji and Babasaheb Ambedkar’s philosophies

(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. N9 blue nanosilver is a highly potent antimicrobial agent.
  2. India is at the 3rd position in terms of scientific publications in nanoscience and Technology.

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. Drugs Controller General of India comes under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 
  2. Natural defence mechanism of the body is known as acquired immunity

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 company recently made the largest FDI in Reliance Jio platform? 

  1. Facebook 
  2. Amazon 
  3. Alibaba 
  4. Netflix 

Q.4 Which of the following nation recently launched its first military satellite, Noor?

  1. Saudi Arabia 
  2. Iraq 
  3. Iran 
  4. UAE

ANSWERS FOR 23rd April 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 A
3 D
4 A

Must Read

About how Oil Price crash is impacting sugar prices:

The Indian Express

About need for protection of Health Workers:

The Hindu

About COVID-19 paradox in South Asia:

The Hindu

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