(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Polity and Governance
- The World Press Freedom Index, 2021 has again ranked India at 142nd out of 180 countries.
- Produced by: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – a French NGO
- Also, for a year, on directions from Cabinet Secretary, an index monitoring cell worked to improve the rankings.
- A meeting was also held between the Indian Ambassador to France and the RSF officials to lobby for a change in the ranking.
- In 2016, India’s rank was 133, which has steadily climbed down to 142 in 2020.
- The RSF report says India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job properly.
- They are exposed to every kind of attack, even police violence against reporters, ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.
- Top countries: Norway followed by Finland and Denmark.
- Bottom country: Eritrea
- China is ranked 177. North Korea at 179 and Turkmenistan at 178.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS – I – Social issues
- The RBI set up a committee to undertake a comprehensive review of the working of asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) in the financial sector ecosystem and recommend suitable measures for enabling them to meet the growing requirements.
- The six-member committee will be headed by Sudarshan Sen, former executive director, RBI.
- The panel will review the existing legal and regulatory framework applicable to ARCs and recommend measures to improve efficacy of ARCs.
- It will also review the role of ARCs in the resolution of stressed assets, including under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), and give suggestions for improving liquidity in and trading of security receipts.
- Besides, it has also been asked to review the business models of ARCs.
- The committee will submit its report within three months from the date of its first meeting.
Scientists develop a new Covid-19 vaccine
Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Sci & tech
- Using a new platform, scientists have developed a Covid-19 vaccine that could offer protection against existing and future strains of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and also other coronaviruses.
- The new vaccine-production platform was invented by Dr Steven L Zeichner of the University of Virginia Health System (UVA).
- It involves synthesising DNA that directs the production of a piece of the virus.
- This can instruct the immune system how to mount an immune response against the virus.
- The vaccine targets a part of the virus’s spike protein called the fusion peptide.
- This compound is essentially universal among coronaviruses, and has not been observed to differ at all in the many genetic sequences of SARS-CoV-2 obtained from around the world.
- Most vaccines in development target either the entire spike protein, or just the receptor binding domain (RBD).
- While antibodies against the RBD can provide good neutralising activity, there can be mutations in the RBD that decrease the effectiveness of the antibodies.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report on Arms imports
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III Defence and security
- Report from Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on arms imports was released.
- According to it, Arms imports decreased by 33% between 2011–15 and 2016–20.
- India continues to remain the second largest arms importer after Saudi Arabia.
- The overall drop in arms imports between 2011–15 and 2016–20 was due to complex and lengthy procurement processes, combined with attempts to reduce its dependence on Russian arms by diversifying its network of arms suppliers.
- Russia was the largest arms supplier in both years
- Russia’s deliveries have dropped by 53% between the two periods and its share of Indian arms imports fell from 70 to 49%.
- France and Israel were the second and third largest arms suppliers in 2016–20.
- India’s arms imports from France increased by 70% while those from Israel rose by 82%.
- The U.S. was the fourth largest supplier in 2016–20.
- India accounted for 9.5% of the total global arms imports during 2016-2020
- Combat aircraft and associated missiles made up more than 50% of arms imports.
India Bangladesh MoU in the Area of Trade Remedial Measures
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II International Relations
- The Union Cabinet has given its ex post facto approval to the MoU between India and Bangladesh on the establishment of a framework of cooperation in the area of trade remedial measures.
- Objective: To promote cooperation in the area of Trade Remedies, covering the broad activities related to exchange of information, undertaking capacity building activities and activities in accordance with various provisions of World Trade Organization in the area of anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures in bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh.
- The MOU seeks to foster better cooperation so as to discourage unfair trade practices and promote rule based bilateral trading between the two countries.
- GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- With their efficient, quick and reliable logistics network, e-commerce platforms have nudged consumer behaviour patterns from an offline to an online shopping mode.
- The utility was also made evident during the pandemic when the world came to a standstill.
- E-commerce emerged as an enabler in ensuring the availability of essentials to the masses.
- E-commerce is going to be increasingly important in the future of retail shopping in India and the world over.
- The trend will continue to grow with the government’s impetus on digital literacy, also supported by the increasing penetration of internet and smartphone users.
Importance of E-Commerce
- Small businesses employing an exceptionally large number of workers need to use e-commerce more and more to augment their sales.
- These businesses compete against cheap imported goods while they face many disadvantages that unfairly dilutes their competitiveness.
- E-commerce provides them with the means to access a much bigger market without having to overly invest in marketing.
- This should include more and more foreign markets.
- Consumers, have benefited enormously from e-commerce. Also, the harmonious working of online and offline retailers is essential.
- With GST and the drive towards digitisation, more small traders need to be enabled to make the transition and take advantage of the expanding opportunities.
- Need for a comprehensive FDI policy on trade that takes care of the needs of all the stakeholders: Producers, consumers, service providers in the supply chain and small traders.
- The policies that have evolved over time need a relook to balance the interests of all in a win-win policy at a time when rapid expansion of the retail, organised retail as well e-commerce sector in India in coming years will create huge opportunities for all.
- Public policies need to provide an enabling environment and a level-playing field to promote and nurture competition and protect the interests of all.
- Public policy on e-commerce needs to place an equal premium on the views and interests of all the stakeholders in the ecosystem to strengthen our domestic businesses and create many more jobs and livelihood opportunities in the country to fulfil the dreams of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- 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 Which of the following states border Bangladesh?
- West Bengal
Select the correct code:
- 1 and 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 2 and 4 only
Q.2 World Press Freedom Index is released by which of the following?
- Doctors without borders
- Amnesty International
- World Economic Forum
- Reporters without borders
Q.3 Consider the following statements:
- A part of the coronavirus’s spike protein is called the fusion peptide.
- This compound varies among coronaviruses.
Which of the above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
ANSWERS FOR 21st April 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On Climate Change negotiations:
On strengthening the process of choosing Police Chief:
On Vaccine inequity: