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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st March 2021

  • IASbaba
  • March 1, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Saras Aajeevika Mela

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – I – Culture & GS – II – Self help groups; Policies and Interventions

In news

  • Saras Aajeevika Mela 2021 was recently inaugurated at Noida Haat.
  • Ministry: Minister of Rural development 

Key takeaways

  • Objective: To include more women in Self Help Groups (SHGs) which play a vital role in increasing family income and improving quality of life.
  • More than 300 rural self-help groups and craftsman from 27 states are participating in the Mela.

Ghana first country to receive vaccine under COVAX

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Health; International Relations & GS – III – Sci & Tech

In news

  • Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive a shipment of coronavirus vaccines under the COVAX program.
  • About 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccinewere sent to Accra in Ghana on February 23.
  • The vaccine is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune which is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world

Important value additions

  • The COVAX program is led by the vaccine alliance GAVI, WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in partnership with UNICEF, vaccine manufacturers and the World Bank, among others.
  • Aim: To ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally 
  • It is supposed to be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
  • The program wants to vaccinate roughly 20 per cent of the population in the 92 Advance Market Commitment (AMC) countries, which include middle and lower-income nations that cannot afford to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than US $4000 and some other countries eligible under the World Bank International Development Association (IDA) shall be given top priority.

Do you know?

  • The AstraZeneca vaccine is known as Covishield in India.
  • It was given Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the WHO in February, 2021.

Related articles:


E-Daakhil Portal functional in 15 states/UTs

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Policies and Interventions; Governance

In news

  • E-Daakhil portal for Consumer grievance redressal is now operational in 15 States/UTs. 
  • Ministry: Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution

Key takeaways 

  • E-filing was launched by National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in September, 2020. 
  • Delhi was the first state to implement it.
  • The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, has provision for e-filing of consumer complaints in the Consumer Commissions and online payment of the fees for filing a complaint.
  • The digital software for filing complaints has features like e-Notice, filing written response by opposite party, alerts via SMS/Email, etc.

Launch of Amazonia-1 Satellite

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Sci & Tech; Space

In news

Key takeaways

  • PSLV-C51 is the 53rd mission of PSLV.
  • Amazonia-1 is the primary satellite of the launch.
  • NSIL is a Government of India company under Department of Space. 
  • Amazonia-1 is the optical earth observation satellite of National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
  • This satellite would provide remote sensing data to users for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon region and analysis of diversified agriculture across the Brazilian territory.

Related articles:


Miscellaneous

Purnagiri Temple

  • Purnagiri Temple was recently in news.
  • Tanakpur (Uttarakhand)-Delhi Junction Special train was recently flagged off. 
  • Pilgrims visiting Purnagiri temple will be benefitted with improved connectivity.
  • On the Annapurna range, the temple organises the Purnagiri Mela in Uttarakhand on Navratri.
  • The temple is situated at a distance of 20Km from Tanakpur, on the right bank of the river Kali in Champawat, Uttarakhand.
  • Purnagiri Devi temple is one of the 108 Siddha Peeths.

National Science Day

  • National Science Day is celebrated on 28th of February.
  • It is celebrated to commemorate the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’.
  • On this day, Physicist CV Raman announced the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’ for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930.
  • The day is aimed at spreading the message of the importance of science and its application in human life.
  • Theme: ‘Future of Science and Technology and Innovation: Impact on Education Skills and Work’.

(Mains Focus)


HEALTH/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Second Wave of COVID-19

Context: Experts remain divided on the question of whether the slow yet steady rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country over the last week of February 2021 is indicative of the onset of a ‘second wave’.

But the Centre and some State governments are on the alert against the rising numbers and are reinforcing aggressive testing and proper social and hygiene protocols

What is happening around the globe?

  • Second Wave in Europe: In Europe, after the first wave in May 2020, the second wave struck in Nov 2020. Experts said every country in Europe that had managed to get away lightly with the first wave was nearly crippled by the second one.
  • Similar Distress in Second Wave: Even nations that had suffered badly initially, including Italy, were hit hard again. Hospitals started filling up, beds went scarce again, and the death rate started climbing. 
  • Government’s response w.r.t Second wave:  Stricter lockdowns were introduced, with curfews and restrictions on gatherings in public places; schools were shut down again, as governments struggled to cope with this new wave.
  • Mutated Strains: In late 2020, the emergence of newer, mutated strains of the virus in Britain and South Africa meant a faster-spreading variant had established dominance in some countries. However, scientists said there was no evidence to show that the new British strain caused a more severe disease.

Are Cases growing in India?

  • After infections peaked in September last year, cases across the country had been steadily declining, with the exception of Kerala, an outlier State that continued to see high numbers after having seen initial success in flattening the curve. 
  • However, in the last week of February this year, the trend reversed, with some States beginning to report higher numbers.  
  • The average increase was around 14,000 new infections per day and two States, Maharashtra and Punjab, led the increase in the number of cases, even as their testing numbers had dipped over the past few months.
  • The Union Health Ministry stated that nearly 86% of the over 16,400 cases recorded in the recent 24-hour time period were from six States and one Union Territory.

Source: The Hindu

What is causing the spike?

  • Cluster-Spreader events: The spikes in Maharashtra were caused by a series of super-spreader events, or clusters. Experts opine that the rise in the number of cases was not due to a variant of the virus with a tendency to transmit faster, but because of select super-spreader events.
  • Letting down of guards: In general, there seems to be an impression among people that the country is over the worst phase of the pandemic, and hence, many are letting their guard and masks down.
  • Lack of Strict Regulations: During the previous surge, strict regulations imposed by States along with fines and penalties for violating protocols helped ensure compliance. But, with the decreasing number of cases, safety measures were overlooked, possibly leading to the clusters that have pushed the numbers up again.
  • May be a blip: There are others who believe that a ‘second wave’ is not really a wave, but more of a blip. One reason for this, according to experts, could be the fact that 60% of India’s population had already been exposed to the virus and the country may have approached herd immunity.

What is the way ahead?

  • There are only two ways of getting immunity from the virus, one is getting infected, and the other is via a vaccine
  •  It is important to fast track the vaccine programme across the country, but testing is equally important. 
  • The number of tests must go up again and contact tracing, ideally 20 persons for every case, should be taken up intently.
  • Experts call for a renewed emphasis on following safety protocols, such as wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining physical distance to fend off a possible ‘second wave’ or a sustained hike in the numbers. Draconian total lockdowns are no longer necessary.

Connecting the dots:


GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation 
  • GS-3: Indian Economy and its challenges

Labour Code for Informal Sector

Context: Finance Minister in her budget speech referred to the implementation of the four labour codes, closing the process that started 20 years ago.

Do You Know?

  • India’s estimated 450 million informal workers comprise 90 per cent of its total workforce, with 5-10 million workers added annually. 
  • Nearly 40 per cent of these employed with MSMEs.

 According to Oxfam’s latest global report, The Inequality Virus

  • Out of the total 122 million who lost their jobs in 2020, 75 per cent, which translates to 92 million jobs, were lost in the informal sector. 
  • The report further highlights that over 300 informal workers died due to the lockdown, with reasons ranging from starvation, suicide, exhaustion, road and rail accidents, police brutality and denial of timely medical care

While there is an urgent need to revive the economy by generating employment, the COVID-19 experience tells us that there is also a need to provide social protection, especially to the 450 million informal sector workers.

Issues

Government diluted the labour laws; then they drafted the rules of the Code on Social Security without really taking into consideration the plight of the informal sector workers.

  • Issues of Exclusion: While on paper, the draft rules envisage wider coverage through the inclusion of informal sector and gig workers, at present the draft rules apply to manufacturing firms with over 299 workers. This leaves 71 per cent of manufacturing companies out of its purview.
  • Burden of Administrative Processes: The draft rules mandate the registration of all workers (with Aadhaar cards) on the Shram Suvidha Portal to be able to receive any form of social security benefit. Failure to register (Aadhar –driven exclusion or lack of adequate knowledge about process) will make then ineligible for the benefits. Also, migrant workers face the challenge of mandatary updating information on the online portal at regular intervals.
  •  Ambiguity on applicability of benefits: It is unclear if a migrant worker with an Aadhaar card registered in her/his home state of Bihar be eligible for social security benefits in Gujarat where she/he is currently employed.
  • No-Right Based Framework: The Code does not emphasize social security as a right, nor does it make reference to its provision as stipulated by the Constitution. In addition, it does not stipulate any appropriate grievance redressal mechanism which will leave millions of workers vulnerable without clear social protections.

Conclusion

The Code on Social Security was envisaged as a legal protective measure for a large number of informal workers in India but unless the labour codes are made and implemented keeping in mind the realities of the informal sector workers, it will become impossible to bridge the inequality gap.

Connecting the dots:


(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 National Science Day is celebrated to commemorate the discovery of which of the following?

  1. Discovery of zero
  2. Raman effect
  3. Pythogoras theorem
  4. Thorium reserves in India

Q.2 GAVI vaccine alliance is a programme between which of the following countries?

  1. Indian and USA
  2. USA and Russia
  3. UK and USA
  4. None of the above

Q.3 Amazonia-1 satellite recently launched by ISRO through PSLV-C51 rocket belongs to which of the following country?

  1. China
  2. Japan
  3. UAE
  4. Brazil

ANSWERS FOR 27th February 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 A
3 C
4 C

Must Read

On National Science Day:

The Hindu

On Political Developments in Nepal:

The Hindu

On US-Iran relations:

Indian Express

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