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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th JUNE 2020

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  • June 18, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th June 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Fifth state of matter observed by the scientists for the first time in space

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

In News:

  • The fifth state of matter has been observed by the scientists for the first time in space. 
  • A team of NASA Scientists recently unveiled the first results from Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC) experiments aboard the International Space Station (ISS). 
  • In space, the particles are free from manipulation from any of the Earthly constraints.
  • This observation has offered unprecedented insight that can help in solving some of the quantum universe’s most difficult questions. 

Key takeaways 

A breakthrough of ‘Fifth State of Matter’

  • Creating a fifth state of matter within the physical confines of a space station is no easy task. 
  • First bosons, the atoms that have an equal number of protons and electrons, are cooled to absolute zero with the use of lasers to clamp them in space.
  • The slower the atoms move around, the cooler they become.
  • As the atoms lose heat, the magnetic field is introduced to keep them from moving and each particle’s waves expand. 
  • Cramming plenty of bosons into a microscopic ‘trap’ causes their waves to overlap into a single matter-wave; this property is known as quantum degeneracy.
  • The magnetic trap is released for the scientists to study the condensate.
  • However, the atoms begin to repel each other which cause the cloud to fly apart and BEC becomes dilute to detect.
  • The microgravity aboard ISS has allowed them to create BECs from rubidium on a far shallower trap than on Earth. 
  • This gave the vastly increased time to study the condensate before diffusing.

Important value additions 

Bose-Einstein Condensates (BEC) 

  • BEC are formed when the atoms of certain elements are cooled to near absolute zero (0 K or – 273.15°C). 
  • At this point, atoms become a single entity with quantum property, whereas each particle also functions as a wave of matter.
  • Scientists have believed that BECs contain vital clues to mysterious phenomena such as dark energy which is unknown energy thought to be behind the Universe’s accelerating expansion.
  • These are extremely fragile and the slightest interaction with the external world is enough to warm them past their condensation threshold. 
  • Because of this condition, it becomes nearly impossible for scientists to study BECs on Earth as gravity interferes with the magnetic field required to hold them in place for observation.
  • BECs in terrestrial lab generally last a handful of milliseconds before dissipating while aboard ISS, those lasted more than a second. 
  • Studying BECs in microgravity has opened up a host of opportunities.
  • Applications range from: 
    • Studying gravitational waves 
    • Spacecraft navigation
    • Searches for dark energy 
    • Tests of general relativity
    • Prospecting for subsurface minerals on the moon and other planetary bodies
  • The existence of Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC) was predicted by an Indian mathematician Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein almost a century ago.

Rubidium

  • It is a chemical element with the symbol Rb and atomic number 37.
  • It is a very soft, silvery-white metal in the alkali metal group
  • It cannot be stored under atmospheric oxygen, as a highly exothermic reaction will ensue, sometimes even resulting in the metal catching fire. 
  • It is used in fireworks to give them a purple color.
  • It has also been considered for use in a thermoelectric generator.  
  • Vaporized 87Rb is one of the most commonly used atomic species employed for laser cooling and Bose–Einstein condensation.

Pan-India real-time market of electricity launched 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure (Energy)

In News:

  • Recently, the government has launched a pan-India real-time market of electricity to enable the buyers and sellers to meet their energy requirement closer to real time of operation.

Key takeaways 

  • It is an organized market platform which will bring required flexibility to provide real time balance while ensuring optimal utilization of the available surplus capacity in the system.
  • Shorter bidding time, faster scheduling, and defined processes will enable the participants to access resources throughout the all India grid, promoting competition.
  • The market would open for 30 minutes in a day
  • Buyers and sellers would have the option of placing buy or sell bids for each 15-minute time block.
  • It will also help manage diversity in the demand pattern in the country with a market at national level.
  • It would help to mitigate challenges of grid management and help to integrate higher amounts of renewable energy (RE) resources into the grid.
  • It would provide an alternate mechanism for Discoms to access larger markets at competitive prices.
  • It would lead to cost optimization of power purchase and serving the consumers with reliable supply as any last minute requirement of power can easily be bought from the Real Time market.
  • Earlier regime of managing the grid by load shedding due to last minute changes will be avoided.
  • In a nutshell:
    • Generators shall have opportunity to sell their surpluses
    • Better management of variability of RE generation 
    • Better utilization of transmission systems
    • Opportunity for discoms to buy or sell power 
    • Consumers shall get reliable power supply

SEBI eases Fund-raising norms for firms

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Statutory Bodies & GS-III – Economy

In News:

Key takeaways 

  • SEBI has allowed companies to make two qualified institutional placements (QIPs) with a gap of just two weeks between them. 
  • The earlier regulations mandated a minimum gap of six months between two such issuances.
  • Promoters can also increase their stakes in their companies through preferential allotments by up to 10% without triggering an open offer. 
  • The cap was earlier set at 5%. 
  • SEBI has, however, allowed this relaxation only for the current financial year.
  • The twin moves would help in enhancing liquidity in the market while promoters could also acquire shares at a time when valuations were quite low compared with the historic highs.

Important value additions 

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)

  • It is the regulator of the securities and commodity market in India owned by the Government of India. 
  • It was established in 1988 and given statutory status through the SEBI Act, 1992. 
  • SEBI is responsible to the needs of three groups:
    • Issuers of securities
    • Investors
    • Market intermediaries
  • Functions: 
    • Quasi-legislative – drafts regulations 
    • Quasi-judicial – passes rulings and orders 
    • Quasi-executive – conducts investigation and enforcement action 
  • Powers:
    • To approve by−laws of Securities exchanges.
    • To require the Securities exchange to amend their by−laws.
    • Inspect the books of accounts and call for periodical returns from recognised Securities exchanges.
    • Inspect the books of accounts of financial intermediaries.
    • Compel certain companies to list their shares in one or more Securities exchanges.
    • Registration of Brokers and sub-brokers

Drug Dexamethasone found to cut death rates among critical Covid-19 patients

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Health; GS-III – Science & Technology (Developments of & their Applications & Effects in Everyday Life)

In News:

  • Researchers leading a major clinical trial in the UK recently announced that the drug dexamethasone had been found to reduce death rates by one-third in the most severely ill Covid-19 patients.

Important value additions 

Dexamethasone 

  • It is a corticosteroid, an easily available medicine
  • It prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation
  • Its effects are frequently seen within a day, and last for about three days.
  • It is used when there is any inflammation in the body due to infection or injury.
  • It has been used for years by sportspersons to hasten their rehabilitation from injuries and recover from infections.
  • It is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) list of prohibited substances
  • Athletes are, however, barred from using dexamethasone only during competition. 
  • It will not be considered a doping offence if it is detected prior to a competition. 

Miscellaneous 

Cristobal

Tropical Storm Cristobal had formed recently in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th JUNE 2020

Image source: Click here 

Malabar exercise

  • It is an annual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan, and the USA
  • It is held alternately in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
  • It began as a bilateral naval exercise between India and the USA in 1992 and was expanded into a trilateral format with the inclusion of Japan in 2015.
  • India is prepared to expand the Malabar exercise to also include Australia now.
  • Other exercises between India and Australia are Pitch Black and AUSINDEX.

(MAINS FOCUS)


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Structure, organization and functioning of the executive 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

India needs to wake up to the dire need for police reforms

Context: The George Floyd incident in US and the ensuing protests in US against racism & police brutality has necessitated the need to reform India’s own police system

Issues faced by Police in India

  • Overburdened: Police work under incomprehensible pressure as they are understaffed. India had (in 2017) 131 police officers per 1,00,000 people; that is lower than the sanctioned number (181) and UN recommended number (222)
  • Slow filling of vacancies in Police which further aggravates the understaffed situation. More than 5 lakh vacancies exist in police forces as of Jan 2020.
  • They are poorly paid when compared to their counterparts in developed countries
  • Poor Living Conditions: Police infrastructure is perennially underfunded, and, with some notable exceptions, there are few efforts to improve them.
  • Political Control: They are usually beholden to corrupt and venal superiors.
  • Prejudiced: Many policemen, like the rest of Indians, carry prejudices—hidden and not-so-hidden—which make their performance uneven and unfair
  • Police Abuse: There are complaints against the police including unwarranted arrests, unlawful searches, torture and custodial rapes
  • Not Citizen friendly: Interactions with the police are generally considered frustrating, time-consuming and costly
  • Weak Investigations: Well over 50% of cases filed by the police (nearly 80% in rape cases) end up in acquittals. One of the reasons is that Police often prioritise law & order over investigative matters
  • Structural issues: 86% of the police force are constables, who have no growth path other than a single promotion (to Head Constable) before they retire. This pushes them to adopt corrupt pathways thus reducing the credibility of Police
  • Low Public Trust: A study by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) found that less than 25% of Indians trust the police highly (54% for the army).
  • Lack of Uniformity across India: Policing in India is a state subject which means there is significant variation across states.
  • Resource Crunch: Between fiscal 2011 and 2015, states spent 4.4% of their budgeted expenditure on policing on average but this has reduced to 4% over the 2015-19
  • Frequent Transfer often leads to dilution of accountability of Police actions and inability to implement long-term reforms

Way Forward- Reform of Police System

  • The Model Police Act of 2006 was circulated to all the states but many of its fundamental principles that remains unfulfilled. There is a need for state to implement it in letter & spirit (considering the evolved scenario)
  • There is a need to separate law and order from investigation
  • There is a need to have an independent complaints authority to inquire into complaints of police misconduct
  • To check against such abuse of power there has internal accountability to senior police officers, and independent police oversight authorities
  • To increase the funding of Police so as to better their infrastructure which reduces the incentives for corruption
  • Sensitization of Police when dealing with public especially during sensitive issues like rape and dowry
  • Modernisation of Police Forces in the light of growing cyber crimes
  • Decriminalization of Politics: These reforms are not implemented due to lack of political will, which in turn could be linked to the growing criminalization of politics.

India’s Long History of Attempted Police Reforms

National Police Commission (NPC) 1977-81 Established after the Emergency, the NPC produced 8 reports suggesting major reforms across a range of police issues.
Ribeiro Committee 1998 Established by the Supreme Court to review the lack of action taken to implement NPC recommendations and to re-frame a new police act
Padmanabhaiah Committee 2000 Dealt with the issues of politicization and criminalization of the police and police accountability
Malimath Committee 2002-03 Suggested changes to the Indian Penal Code and outlined ways of improving judicial proceedings
Police Act Drafting Committee 1 2005 Drafted a new model Police Act to replace the 1861 Police Act.
Supreme Court Directives

(Prakash Singh Case)

2006 SC issued seven directives to state police forces including setting up State Security Commissions, Police Establishment Boards and a Police Complaints Authority
Second Administrative Reforms 2007 Noted that police-public relations were unsatisfactory and suggested a range of reforms to change this
Justice Thomas Committee 2010 Highlighted the total indifference of state governments to police reforms
Supreme Court Directives

(On Centre’s plea to modify 2006 verdict)

2018 New directives on police reforms and reviewed states progress in the implementation of the 2006 directives

INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY/ SECURITY

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • India and its neighborhood- relations 
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora. 

In pandemic crisis, bridging the gulf with West Asia

Context: The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted the political, economic and institutional architecture of the world. As a result, the relationship between India and West Asia is also poised to face some turbulence

Impact of Pandemic on West Asia

  • Fiscal Pressure on West Asian Governments: The slowdown in Oil demand caused by disruptions induced by Pandemic will reduce the revenues of these countries
  • Business Closures: According to a Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry survey, more than 70% of businesses classified as small and medium-sized enterprises in Dubai, many owned by Indian nationals, may not survive near future
  • Labour Critical industries like tourism, conventions, hospitality and airlines would face immediate brunt due to labour shortage caused by out-migration of blue collar workers to their home countries
  • Example: UAE’s hospitality sector itself contributes 4.6% of the country’s GDP, making nearly 600,000 jobs that are mostly fulfilled by foreign workers. Some reports suggest that up to 30% of these jobs could be lost.
  • Reduced Consumer Spending: In Saudi Arabia, consumer spending for April 2020, compared to the same time last year, was reportedly down by 34.6%
  • Slows the reform plan: Reduced GDP is expected to have a significant blow on the reform plans initiated by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman like opening up the Saudi economy and moving the country’s financial ecosystem away from its overt dependence on petro dollars.

Impact of Pandemic on India-West Asia relationship

  • West Asia/Gulf region holds a significant court for strategic, economic and even domestic political agendas, ranging from migration to energy security. 
  • Reverse migration: The pandemic has initiated a reverse migration of Indian blue-collar workers as projects in oil-rich States has stalled
  • Reduction in salaries of Indian workers:  The oil price crash will carry massive costs to the West Asian economies, and, by association, to foreign workers employed there.
  • Reduction in remittances: Overall, close to nine million Indians work in West Asia, responsible for sending back more than 56% of India’s annual infusion of $80 billion in remittances which will reduce in the wake of reverse migration

Oil and investment – an opportunity for India

  • India gets around 60% of its hydrocarbon requirements from West Asia. 
  • The reduction oil prices have helped cushion the impact of the national lockdown on the India’s balance of payment
  • On an annualised basis, India saves up to $1.35 billion for each $1 drop in oil prices. 
  • India has also taken advantage of the low prices to build up its strategic reserves and is looking at offshore storage options.
  • The major sovereign wealth funds and other financial institutions in West Asia have been hit hard by COVID-19 as well. The economic reforms recently announced by India can help attract these funds who are looking for better avenues

Way Forward

  • Central government needs to work with the government of Maharashtra to expedite land acquisition for the $50 billion mega-refinery project as Saudi Aramco & the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company have committed to investing $25 billion in the project
  • Fast-track resolution of endless litigation that has stopped the sale of a major stake of Mumbai airport by GVK to a consortium that includes the UAE sovereign fund will send out a positive signal to the markets
  • Government has set up an empowered group headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba to take necessary steps to attract FDI into India. This mechanism has to take up West Asia on priority.
  • To mitigate the problem of return of semi-skilled and skilled workers into an economy already struggling with jobs government has launched the Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support (SWADES) 
  • SWADES attempts to capture the skills profile of returning workers and house them in a central portal that can be accessed by Indian and foreign companies. There has to be effective utilization of this initiative

(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 Bose Einstein Condensate (BEC):

  1. It is the fifth state of matter which is observed for the first time in space recently.
  2. Rubidium was used to create BEC aboard International Space Station. 

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 In which of the following applications can Bose Einstein Condensate be used? 

  1. Studying gravitational waves 
  2. Spacecraft navigation 
  3. Searches for dark energy 
  4. Detecting subsurface minerals on the moon 

Select the correct code:

  1. 1, 2 and 4 only 
  2. 2 and 3 only 
  3. 2, 3 and 4
  4. All of the above 

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Rubidium: 

  1. It is a silvery white metal belonging to alkali group. 
  2. It can be stored under atmospheric oxygen.

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 Consider the following statements regarding the Securities and Exchange Board of India:

  1. It is a statutory body established through the SEBI Act, 1992. 
  2. It is the regulator of the securities and commodity market owned by the government as well as private companies of India. 

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.5 Which of the following drug has been recently found to cut death rates among critical covid-19 patients?

  1. Remdesivir
  2. Tocilizumab
  3. Hydroxychloroquine
  4. Dexamethasone 

ANSWERS FOR 17th June 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 C
3 D
4 B
5 A
6 B
7 A

Must Read

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