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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd MAY 2020

  • IASbaba
  • May 2, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd May 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Railways start Shramik Special Trains to move migrant workers and other stranded persons

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Disaster Management; Infrastructure (Railways)

In News:

  • As per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, “Shramik Special” trains shall start running  from May 1 (Labour Day).
  • The trains shall move migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places due to lockdown which is in force due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Key takeaways:

  • These special trains will run from point to point on the request of both the concerned State Governments as per the standard protocols for sending and receiving such stranded persons. 
  • The passengers shall be screened by the sending states
  • Passengers who are found asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) would be allowed to travel. 
  • Passengers shall be brought to the railway station in batches in sanitized buses while maintaining strict social distancing norms by the sending state governments. 
  • It will be mandatory for every passenger to wear face cover
  • Meals and drinking water would be provided. 
  • On arrival at the destination, passengers will be received by the State Government, who would make all arrangements for their screening, quarantine if necessary and further travel from the Railway Station

Kisan Sabha App: To connect farmers to supply chain and freight transportation 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Welfare Schemes

In News:

  • Kisan Sabha App was launched recently by CSIR-Central Road Research Institute (CSIR-CRRI), New Delhi. 
  • The app is developed to connect farmers to supply chain and freight transportation management system.

Key takeaways:

  • The portal connects the farmers, transporters, Service providers (like pesticides/ fertilizer/ dealers, cold store and warehouse owner), mandi dealers, customers (like big retail outlets, online stores, institutional buyers) and other related entities for timely and effective solution.
  • The portal acts as a single stop for every entity related to agriculture. 
  • Kisan Sabha has 6 major modules taking care of: 
    • Farmers
    • Mandi Dealers
    • Transporters
    • Mandi Board Members
    • Service Providers
    • Consumers. 
  • Kisan Sabha aims to provide the most economical and timely logistics support to the farmers. 
  • The goal of the app is to increase farmers’ profit margins by minimizing interference of middlemen and directly connecting with the institutional buyers. 
  • It will also help in providing best market rates of crops by comparing nearest mandis, booking of freight vehicles at cheapest cost. 

Shobhana Narasimhan elected as an International Honorary Member to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Achievements of Indians in science & technology.

In News:

  • Professor Shobhana Narasimhan from the Theoretical Sciences Unit (TSU) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), has been elected as an International Honorary Member to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Important value additions:

  • Prof Narasimhan heads the Computational Nanoscience group at JNCASR.
  • She became a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India in 2011. 
  • She has also received awards like the Stree Shakti Samman Science Award in 2010 and the Kalpana Chawla Woman Scientist Award of the Government of Karnataka in 2010. 

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences 

  • It is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. 
  • It was founded in 1780. 
  • The Academy is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good. 
  • It honours scholars and leaders who have distinguished themselves in the sciences, arts, humanities and public life.
  • Membership in the academy is considered a high honor of scholarly and societal merit. 
  • The list of previous International Honorary Members includes Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela.

Miscellaneous 

Chakma and Hajong 

  • The Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) has directed the Arunachal Pradesh government to include the Chakma and Hajong communities in the COVID-19 relief programme.
  • The Chakmas and Hajongs are ethnic people. 
  • Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists while Hajongs are Hindus.
  • They were inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who migrated to India due to:
    • Submergence of their land by the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli River in the 1960s.
    • religious persecution they faced in East Pakistan as they were non-Muslims.
  • The Indian government set up relief camps in Arunachal Pradesh and a majority of them continue to live there even after 50 years.
IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd May 2020

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd May 2020

Image source: Click here 

Kovilpatti Kadalai Mittai 

  • Kovilpatti kadalai mittai (chikki or sweet made of peanuts and jaggery) has got geographical indication (GI) tag.
  • It is produced in Kovilpatti and adjacent towns of Tamil Nadu
  • The uniqueness about the sweet are the ingredients used for its manufacture which are procured from the geographical area of Kovilpatti.
  • The ingredients include groundnuts grown in the native black soil of Kovilpatti, organic jaggery and water sourced from the Thamirabarani river.
  • It is produced using ‘veragu aduppu’ (firewood stove). 

Kashmir Saffron 

  • Kashmir saffron has been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Geographical Indications Registry.
  • It is cultivated and harvested in the Karewa (highlands) of Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • The unique characteristics of Kashmir saffron are:
    • longer and thicker stigmas 
    • natural deep-red colour 
    • high aroma
    • bitter flavour
    • chemical-free processing
    • high quantity of crocin (colouring strength), safranal (flavour) and picrocrocin (bitterness).
  • It is the only saffron in the world grown at an altitude of 1,600 m to 1,800 m above mean sea level.
  • It is renowned globally as a spice. 
  • It rejuvenates health and is used in cosmetics and for medicinal purposes
  • It is associated with traditional Kashmiri cuisine.

(MAINS FOCUS)


GOVERNANCE/ SECURITY/ INTERNATIONAL

Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in Health sectors 
  • Challenges to National Security
  • International Organisation and their mandates

COVID-19: Countries should commit for Universal Bio-deterrence

Context: COVID-19 pandemic has awakened the world to the destructive potential of a possible biological weapon. Many see COVID-19 as a quasi-biological war in its scale, scope, duration and impact. 

Health and biosecurity have, thus, become paramount in national security in 2020.

Challenges of Biological Weapons

  • Difficult to differentiate between intentional harm and accidental transmission.
  • New biological agents cannot be anticipated
  • Highly transmissible and deadly
  • The time lag in finding treatment and vaccines inflicts high morbidity and mortality on defenceless populations. 
  • The latency period and mutation into different strains makes disease detection and control difficult. 
  • It affects the armed forces’ capacity to deal with other conventional and terrorist threats
  • Amenable to be used by non-state actors: Bioterrorism by non-state actors through accidental release or theft of biological disease agents from research facilities
  • Mass contagion and fatalities can bring even the most powerful economies to a halt. 
  • Societies can be put into turmoil and governance can suffer serious crises.

What measures are need to tackle dangers of Bio-weapons?

  1. Integration with National Security
  • Biosecurity should be mainstreamed into our defence, security and counterterrorism strategies.
  • A dedicated National Rapid Deployment Biosecurity Force should be established 
  • This would consist of armed forces, police and health responders who perform frontline pandemic-related bio-defence, and disaster relief and response roles.
  1. Developing Bio-intelligence
  • Effective, credible, national and international, bio-intelligence systems — especially for new diseases and potential bioweapons — should be put in place. 
  • National defence intelligence should incorporate medical intelligence and infectious diseases-risk assessment, and pandemic predictions. 
  • Countries should develop National strategies for bio-intelligence and cooperate with other friendly biosecurity powers
  1. Bio-safety of Research facilities
  • Governmental and private R&D labs, biotech and virology centres need to be catalogued according to established safety levels, especially for dangerous biological toxins. 
  • Protocols in case of accidents and theft need to be established for them.
  1. Developing multilateral bio-surveillance mechanisms.
  • Empowering WHO’s health security mechanisms to surveil and access facilities in countries free from geopolitical pressures. 
  • Non-proliferation and export control on dual-use biological materials and technologies.
  • All countries need to recommit to a doctrine of universal bio-deterrence. 
  1. Changes in Governance
  • Countries need to make all normal laboratories and medical facilities transformable into a seamless biosecurity infrastructure for quick and reliable testing
  • Countries should pursue national self-sufficiency in medical and healthcare supply chains 

Conclusion

India needs to propel the early reinforcement of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention with a comprehensive, legally-binding protocol on credible biosurveillance, verification and compliance mechanism at the 2021 review conference.

Connecting the dots:

  • Chemical Weapons
  • Trade control regimes: Wassenaar agreement, Australia Group, MTCR and NSG

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

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

RBI’s job involves trade-offs, not conflicts

Context: The economic crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the role of Central Banks. This is to avoid the repeat of history where central bankers of the 1920s failed to fight the Great Depression.

The job of Central Bank involves complex trade-offs — 

  • Next quarter(Short term) vs quarter century (Long term)
  • Growth vs stability
  • Mandates (accountability) vs Expectations (autonomy)

Some of the measures taken by Central Banks to tide over COVID crisis are:

  • Buying corporate bonds to improve liquidity in system 
  • Making corporate loans to boost economic cycle
  • Cutting interest rates to spur investments
  • Conducting open market operations to keep rates low & adequate liquidity
  • Reducing reserve ratios to avoid banks parking their funds with Central Banks 
  • Additionally, banks have been permitted to 
    • Grant loan moratoriums 
    • Hold less capital
    • Restructure loans
    • Pay lower deposit insurance premiums 
    • Delay bad loan recognition
  • Majority of these measures have been undertaken by RBI also – Part I and Part II

RBI’s COVID measures is constrained by pre-existing conditions in Indian banking, some of which are as follows:

  • Bad loans (peaked at Rs 14 lakh crore but still large)
  • Inadequate competition (scheduled commercial bank numbers have remained between 90 and 100 since 1947)
  • Private bank governance (CEO so powerful that boards and shareholders are weak)
  • Public sector bank governance (shareholder so powerful that boards and CEOs are weak)

Way Ahead for RBI

  1. Acting cautiously to balance the next quarter and quarter century
  • It must ensure that debt levels are not very high which imposes burden on future generations
  • RBI cannot mimic the model of developed countries as India’s position is different. For ex: US fiscal deficit is expected to be around 15 per cent of GDP and Japan’s public debt levels is nearly 240 per cent of GDP. 
  • An analogy here will be “We are all in the same storm but we are all not in the same boat”
  1. Acting flexibly to blunt this economic crisis
  • RBI’s mandate of Inflation targeting needs to be relooked in the light of economic disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic
  • Other flexibility options include repayment moratoriums and bank windows for NBFC/Mutual Fund liquidity. 
  1. Acting within its mandate to ensure institutional legitimacy and immunity
  • RBI must build on its track record of wisely balancing the trade-offs between depositors vs borrowers, companies vs banks, and stability vs growth. 
  • RBI must continue to stay out of excessive government interference.

Conclusion

Creating a prosperous India needs many things. One of them is an independent, accountable, and boundaried central bank that listens.

Connecting the dots:

  • Keynesian Economics
  • 2008 Financial crisis and measures taken to come out of the crisis

(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 the Shramik special trains, consider the following guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs:

  1. It will be mandatory for every passenger to wear face cover.
  2. Passengers, irrespective of symptoms would be allowed to travel.

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 Kisan Sabha App: 

  1. It will increase the interference of middlemen by connecting the farmers with institutional buyers. 
  2. It will have only one major module taking care of the farmers

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 is/are correct about the American Academy of Arts and Sciences:

  1. Recently Indian Professor Shobhana Narasimhan  has been elected as an International Honorary Member. 
  2. It is one of the recently established learned societies in the United States. 

Select the correct code:

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

Q.4 Majority of Chakma and Hajong communities live in which of the following state of India? 

  1. Assam 
  2. Manipur 
  3. Nagaland 
  4. Arunachal Pradesh

Q.5 With regard to Kashmir saffron, which received GI tag recently, consider the following statements: 

  1. It is the only Saffron in the world grown at an altitude of 1600 metres to 1800 above mean sea level 
  2. It has high quantity of Crocin which gives the product to which it is added, a strong colour. 

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.6 Kovilpatti Kadalai Mittai which receive GI tag recently belongs to which of the following state of India?

  1. Tamil Nadu 
  2. Andhra Pradesh 
  3. Telangana 
  4. Kerala

ANSWERS FOR 1st May 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 A
4 A
5 A
6 A

Must Read

About economic slowdown in India:

The Hindu

About Taiwan’s model in fighting COVID-19:

The Hindu

About life vs livelihood in today’s time of COVID-19 pandemic:

The Indian Express

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