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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 3rd April 2020

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  • April 3, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 3rd April 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Geo-fencing app: To Locate quarantine violators

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

In News:

  • The application is called COVID-19 Quarantine Alert System (CQAS).
  • CQAS relies on the person’s mobile phone’s cell tower location
  • The app triggers e-mails and SMS alerts to an authorised government agency if a person has jumped quarantine or escaped isolation
  • Department of Telecom (DoT) and C-DOT, in coordination with telecom service providers, have developed this application.

Important value additions:

  • The Indian Telegraph Act empowers the government to seek phone data telecom companies – being utilized to track COVID-19 cases (Due process of Law followed)
  • Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) established as registered society in 1984 is an autonomous Telecom R&D centre of DoT, Government of India.

Price Monitoring & Resource Unit (PMRU): Set up in Jammu & Kashmir

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health, Governance

In News:

  • Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory become 12th State where the PMRU has been set up by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)
  • The unit shall be funded by NPPA for its recurring and non-recurring expenses

Key takeaways:

  • The PMRU, a registered society, will function under State Drug Controller of Jammu & Kashmir
  • PMRU shall help NPPA and State Drug Controller in ensuring availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.
  • PMRU will collect samples of medicines, collect and analyse data and make reports with respect to availability & over-pricing of medicines for taking action under DPCO
  • It is also expected to organise awareness activities related to affordability of medicines

Important value additions:

  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy (NPPP) – governs price control.
  • Drug Price Control Orders (DPCO) – enforces price control. 
  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) – monitors and controls drug prices.
  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy-2012 – places a regulatory framework for pricing of drugs.

AarogyaSetu App: To assess the risk of catching Coronavirus infection

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

In News:

  • Objective of App:  To enable people to assess themselves the risk of catching the Coronavirus infection
  • Working: The app utilizing Bluetooth technology detects other devices (also having same app) that comes in the proximity of the phone. 
  • It then calculates the risk of infection based on sophisticated algorithms and artificial intelligence if any of these contacts is tested positive.
  • The app helps in quick contact tracing if a person is tested positive 
  • Developed by public-private collaboration involving multiple stakeholders
  • Privacy Upheld: The personal data collected by the App is encrypted and stays secure on the phone till it is needed for facilitating medical intervention.

e-NAM: Features updated in the wake of COVID-19 crisis

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Ecaonomy (Agriculture); Science & Technology

In News:

  • Two new features – Warehouse based trading module and FPO Trading module- added on e-NAM platform to reduce the farmer’s need to come to wholesale mandis

Important Value Additions 

  • e-NAM was launched in 2016 as a pan-India electronic agricultural marketing/trade portal linking APMCs across the States. 
  • It is managed by Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) 
  • e-NAM provides for contactless remote bidding and mobile-based any time payment for which traders do not need to either visit mandis or banks for the same. 
  • Presently, 585 mandis in 16 States and 2 UTs are integrated on e-NAM portal. 

Miscellaneous 

Project Praana: Indigenous ventilator prototype developed by IISc

  • In a worst case scenario of COVID-19 crisis, nearly 0.006% of the Indian population (~75,000) will require critical care with access to ventilators
  • Ventilators deliver breaths (oxygen) to a patient who is physically unable to breathe.
  • Challenges to manufacturing ventilators are
    • Limited access to pneumatic and electronic hardware, sensors and actuators from the global marketplace 
    • Disrupted global supply chain
  • The ventilator prototype will use materials readily available from India
  • The prototype has mass flow sensors and controllers which accurately tell how much oxygen is flowing and what volume the patient is inhaling in one breath

National Monitoring Dashboard for COVID-19

  • Objective of the dashboard: Monitoring of COVID-19 related grievances on priority basis
  • Developed by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) of Ministry of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions 
  • The portal will be monitored at senior levels in Government on a daily basis

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 3:

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

COVID-19: Opportunity in the crisis

The government’s measures to tackle COVID-19 pandemic has been designed to provide immediate relief. Nevertheless, the crisis provides an opportunity to bring in certain reforms that are beneficial to country in the long run.

Some of these long term measures suggested by Arvind Subramanian (Former Chief Economic Advisor) are:

  • Revamping Macro-fiscal Framework
    1. Fiscal Expenditure in this crisis could entail 4-5% of GDP 
    2. Therefore, relaxation of FRBM limits (including for States) is advised
    3. Union government’s overall deficit could exceed more than 10 per cent
    4. Thus, there is a need to overhaul the entire FRBM framework given that the starting point post the crisis will be different.
  • Remake Finance
    1. Largescale takeover of bad loans by RBI to support businesses(US Fed model during 2008 financial crisis)
    2. Technology-driven lending Model as advocated by Nandan Nilekani – It uses data rather than collateral, allowing nealry 10 million-odd businesses with deep digital footprints (for example, based on GST invoices), to get loans from the ecosystem of new financial players.
  • Complete JAM: 
    1. Opportunity to fix the last-mile weakness of JAM system – transparency and geographical difficulties in accessing cash
    2. To be leveraged for welfare policies and eventually Universal Basic Income
  • Re-shape India Agriculture
    1. Creation of pan-Indian market for agriculture across India.
    2. Elimination of restrictive legislations like Essential Commodities Act 
    3. Phasing out of subsidies for fertilizer and instead provide for efficient income transfer scheme (PM-KISAN yojana) to farmers using JAM 
  • Make in India
    1. Intelligent industrial policy — incentives, regulatory help, trade policy – to provide direction in the changed scenario post crisis
    2. Focus on few sectors like pharmaceuticals (Drug Security)
  • Establish migrants as Full citizens
    1. Need to move from immobile place-based benefits to mobile person-based benefits using JAM infrastructure
    2. Portability of benefits across States. Example: PDS, Ujjwala and Ayushman Bharat.
  • Upgrade Health:
    1. Strengthening Disease Surveillance System by Creating an apex institution like the US’ Centers for Disease Control with a network across all the states
    2. Primary Public health and early childhood care to be prioritized over tertiary care
  • Build National Solidarity Fund:
    1. To help the informal poor
    2. Funding can be from Wealth Taxes or elimination of Middle Class Subsidies

Conclusion

The prerequisites for the success of these actions is cooperation between the Centre and states. India should make use of crisis to bring in structural changes in the system (like we did during the 1991 BOP crisis)

Connecting the dots:

  • Why e-NAM has not taken off?
  • Challenges with Central Bank buying off bad loans
  • Internal Migration and its consequence on demand for reservation of locals

ENVIRONMENT/ HEALTH

Topic: General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Zoonosis: Safe forests, safe people

Zoonosis a disease which can be transmitted from animals to humans. 

Diseases of animal Origin include

  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – from bats and the civet cat
  • Nipah Virus – From bats & pigs
  • Kyasanur Forest Disease – From Hard ticks or from dead monkeys
  • Bird Flu and Swine Flu
  • Ebola
  • HIV
  • COVID-19

These diseases are causing pandemics more often than not in the recent past. Some of the reasons attributed for this are:

  • The destruction of forests has made these animals come into close contact with humans
  • Trapping or farming of wild species by humans has increased their vulnerability to transmission
  • Rising economic activity, such as road building and mining cutting through forests, brings more people in close contact with animals. 
  • Increased global trade in wild species – In Wuhan, the epicentre of COVID-19, wolf pups to rats, civets and foxes were traded which could be the reservoir of viruses.

Way Ahead

  • Avoid reckless exploitation of environment
  • Maintaining the sanctity of forests:
    • Biodiversity in forests harmlessly retains dangerous viruses and other pathogens among a vast pool of wild animals, away from people.
  • Change in the mind-set:
    • Societies & Governments should stop viewing undisturbed landscapes as an impediment to economic growth.
  • Increased attention from International actors about the dangers of future pandemic– Governments, Civil Society, International Organisations and Businesses.
  • Environmental aspects to be integrated into developmental strategies
  • Administrative Changes
    • Roll back the dilution of the environmental clearance system
    • Decentralisation – Empowering local communities to deal with environmental clearances
    • Empowering Scientific community- Leaving protected areas to scientific experts rather than at the hands of bureaucracy
  • Creating awareness among the public 
    • Common man should be made aware of that environmental protection confers health protection (that is already backed by scientific evidence)

Conclusion

Pristine forests with diverse species keep viruses virtually bottled up, out of man’s way. They should be left undisturbed.

Connecting the dots:

  • Impact of crisis caused by COVID-19 disease (having animal source ) on food habits
  • US withdrawal from Paris Climate Deal – Will COVID-19 crisis create a rethink on US part?

(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 regarding AarogyaSetu App 

  1. It is developed by NASSCOM
  2. It will enable people to assess themselves the risk of catching the Coronavirus infection

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 about e-NAM

  1. It is an online agricultural trading platform managed by Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) 
  2. All Agricultural Marketing Produce Committees (APMC) in India have been linked in this platform

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. Project Praana recently seen in news is related to

  1. Ensuring Clean drinking water
  2. Development of Indigenous ventilators
  3. Tracking COVID-19 cases
  4. None of the above

Q 4. Consider the following statements about Price Monitoring & Resource Unit (PMRU)

  1. It was recently set up in Jammu & Kashmir
  2. It helps authorities in checking overpricing and addressing local issues of shortages/hoarding in the current situation when country is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 1st April 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 A
3 C
4 C

Must Read

About SC order on migrant labours:

The Indian Express 

About calibrated approach to ending Lockdown:

The Indian Express

About COVID-19 and private sector support:

The Hindu

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