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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th April 2020

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  • April 29, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th April 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


15-billion ADB loan to India to fund COVID-19 emergency

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Groupings; Health & GS-III – Economy; Disaster Management

In News:

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided $15 billion loan to the Government of India to fund its immediate response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic 
  • The loan shall be used to deal with health and socio-economic impacts. 

Key takeaways:

  • The loan is approved by the ADB under its COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Programme. 
  • The loan is the bank’s largest loan to India till date.
  • The money will be spent to implement the containment plan and rapidly increase the test-track-treatment capacity
  • It will also be used to provide social protection to poor people over the next three months. 
  • India will also take the ADB’s technical support to strengthen its implementation framework and capacities to implement Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. 

Important value additions:

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • It is a regional development bank. 
  • It was established on 19 December 1966. 
  • Headquarters: Mandaluyong, Philippines. 
  • It was established to promote social and economic development in Asia
  • Motto: ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Asia & the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.
  • The ADB offers hard loans (currency) on commercial terms primarily to middle income countries in Asia and 
  • It provides soft loans (loan with a below-market rate of interest) to poorer countries in the region. 
  • Both types of loans are sourced from the bank’s ordinary capital resources (OCR).
  • Five largest borrowing countries are China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh. 

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom downgrades India’s position in 2020 list

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations

In News:

  • The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking.
  • The report was released in Washington recently by the federal government commission that functions as an advisory body. 

Key takeaways:

  • It has put India amongst “countries of particular concern” (CPC) in its 2020 report. 
  • The report placed India alongside countries like China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. 
  • India was categorised as a “Tier 2 country” in last year’s report. 
  • This is the first time since 2004 that India has been placed in this category.
  • It included specific concerns about the Citizenship Amendment Act, the proposed National Register for Citizens, anti-conversion laws and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • The commission also recommended that the U.S. government take stringent action against India under the “International Religious Freedom Act” (IRFA). 
  • It recommended the administration to impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom. 

Important value additions:

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 

  • It is a U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. 
  • Responsibilities: 
    • To review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally
    • To make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress. 
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C. 
  • Functions: USCIRF researches and monitors international religious freedom issues. 
  • It issues an annual report after its evaluation of the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations worldwide.

Supreme Court rules inclusion of deemed universities under Anti-corruption law 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Education

In News:

  • In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court has held that bribery and corruption in a deemed university can be tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Key takeaways:

  • The judgement was given by a three-judge Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana. 
  • As per the judgement, 
    • Individuals, authorities or officials connected to a deemed university, irrespective of their role or designation, come under the definition of a ‘public servant’. 
    • Deemed universities come within the ambit of the term ‘university’ in Section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, 1988. 
    • A deemed institution, under the University Grants Commission Act of 1956, has the same common public duty like a university to confer academic degrees, which are recognised in the society.

Important value additions:

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

  • It is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to combat corruption in government agencies and public sector businesses in India. 
  • In 2018, Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill was passed under which punish bribe-givers and bribe-takers shall be punished. 
  • The Bill provides for jail terms of three to seven years, besides fine, to those convicted of taking or giving bribes to public officials.
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th April 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th April 2020

Image source: Click here 

Deemed university

  • Deemed university, or deemed-to-be-university, is an accreditation awarded to higher educational institutions in India, conferring the status of a university. 
  • It is granted by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. 
  • Institutions that are ‘deemed-to-be-university’ enjoy the academic status and privileges of a university.

Miscellaneous 

Plasma therapy

  • Plasma therapy uses blood donated by recovered patients to introduce antibodies in those under treatment. 
  • The therapy for COVID-19 is still at an experimental stage and the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) is currently studying its efficacy. 
  • In 2014, convalescent plasma, collected from patients who had recovered from Ebola virus disease, was recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a treatment during the outbreak.
  • During the H1N1 virus outbreak of 2009 and SARS epidemic of 2003, plasma therapy was used to treat patients.

Tripoli

  • Tripoli is the capital city and the largest city of Libya
  • Violent protests have erupted in the city recently over a spiralling economic crisis despite a coronavirus lockdown.
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th April 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th April 2020

Image source: Click here 


(MAINS FOCUS)


GOVERNANCE/ ETHICS

Topic: General Studies 2 & 4:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • Ethics in Public administration 

Privacy concerns during a pandemic

Context: In the midst of public health crisis, the measures taken by Union & State governments in India – lockdown, physical distancing norms – has been supported by public. 

Nevertheless, there are certain pitfalls which needs to be avoided especially with regard to government’s technology solutions to tackle pandemic

Dangers of government actions during Crises times

  • Prone to overreach: Justice Khanna outlined that “when faced with crises, governments — acting for all the right reasons — are invariably prone to overreach”
  • Threat to Civil Liberties: If the government so chooses, fundamental rights can be suspended at will stating that the need to save lives takes precedence over all other interests.
  • Continuance of restrictive measures even after the crises has passed
  • Invasive use of technology that seeks to utilise people’s personal health data.

How has technology been invoked during this pandemic?

Technology has been invoked at three levels. 

  • First, in creating a list of persons suspected to be infected with COVID-19; 
  • Second, in deploying geo-fencing and drone imagery to monitor compliance by quarantined individuals 
  • Third, through the use of contact-tracing smartphone applications, such as AarogyaSetu

Impact of technologies on privacy

1. The use of geo-fencing and drone technologies is unsanctioned

  • Though cell-phone based surveillance is permissible under the Telegraph Act of 1885, until now the orders authorising surveillance have not been published. 

2. Indiscriminate usage of modified surveillance drones 

  • These are equipped with the ability to conduct thermal imaging, night-time reconnaissance, and integrate facial recognition into existing databases such as Aadhaar. 
  • Some of the drones do not appear to possess any visible registration or licensing.

3. Dangers of contact-tracing applications like ArogyaSetu

  • It promises users a deep insight into the movements of a COVID-19 carrier
  • The aim is to ensure that a person who comes into contact with a carrier can quarantine herself. 
  • The efficacy of such applications have been questioned by some
  • Lack of Transparency: Details of the application’s technical architecture and its source code have not been made public. 
  • Lack of accountability: The programme and its institution is not backed by legislation.
  • Coercive in nature: Like Aadhaar it seems that the application will be used as an object of coercion (through issuance of e-pass) in spite of making its usage voluntary
  • Invades Privacy: AarogyaSetu is framed as a necessary technological invasion into personal privacy, in a bid to achieve a larger social purpose
  • Lack of clarity on how the huge personal data that it will collect will be deployed.

Way Ahead

  • A pandemic cannot be a pretext to renounce the Constitution
  • Any action by government that infringes on privacy must meet the requirements of legality, necessity and the doctrine of proportionality (K.S. Puttaswamy Case)
  • Civil Society should pay close attention to rights, not to impede the government’s efforts, but to ensure that they are not permanently reduced.

Connecting the dots:

  • Justice B.N.Srikrishna Committee report on Data protection 
  • EU Data protection law

GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY/ SOCIETY

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 
  • Indian Economy and challenges with regard to resource mobilization 

Online Education

Context: UGC held a meeting to consider a tentative academic calendar for the current year, and the need to promote online learning 

How had India progressed with regard to access to education?

In the last two decades, there has been a conscious effort on the part of the state to improve access to education at all levels with measures like

  • Right to Education Act 
  • OBC reservation in Higher Educational institutions
  • Recent EWS reservation
  • Online Education an integral part of Digital India programme

Constraints with Online Learning in India

  • Digital divide in India with poor not having sufficient access to internet
    • 55,000 villages in the country are without mobile network coverage as per Niti Aayog, in its “Strategy for New India@75” report
  • Proper Infrastructure: Personal computers and phones unequal to professional work
  • Lack of Experience: Both teachers and students fall back on the communications grammar of the live classroom which produces confusion online. 
  • Lack of Capabilities: Both teachers and students need training in how to operate in the electronic classroom, and how to deal with digital workflows.
  • Increased burden: Parents have to bear the burden of keeping electronic classrooms in order

Sociological issues with Online Education

  • A large number of students are not comfortable with spoken or written English. This makes online pedagogical material that much inaccessible
  • The students come with different levels of prior training, which makes it difficult to have a one-size-fits-all approach with online teaching.
  • The bottom pyramid of society who are poorer might not find financial resources to access it and thus endangering their education prospects

Way Ahead

  • Increased funding to public education
  • State-backed television and radio, along with community radio in underserved places, can help to bridge this divide temporarily. 
  • Digitisation of public schools
  • Leveraging the help of civil society to enhance the access of education, especially in remote places

Connecting the dots:

  • Operation Digital Board of GoI
  • Impact of COVID-19 on telecom sector

(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 Headquarter of Asian Development Bank is located at which of the following? 

  1. Philippines
  2. China
  3. Indonesia
  4. Pakistan 

Q.2 With regard to recently released report by The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, consider the following statements:

  1. It has placed India amongst countries of particular concern (CPC) in its 2020 report. 
  2. This is the first time since 2004 that India has been placed in this category.

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 As per the recent judgement by the Supreme Court, consider the following statements?

  1. Individuals authorities or officials connected to a deemed university come under the definition of a ‘public servant’. 
  2. Deemed universities come within the ambit of the term ‘university’ in Section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, 1988. 

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.4 Tripoli is the capital city of which of the following country? 

  1. Tunisia 
  2. Chad
  3. Niger 
  4. Libya 

ANSWERS FOR 28th April 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 A
3 C
4 C

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