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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th May 2021

  • IASbaba
  • May 14, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Indian Researchers sequence pangolin scales

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III –  Environment

In news

  • Indian Researchers have sequenced 624 pangolin scales, thereby categorising the Indian and Chinese pangolins.

Key takeaways

  • Pangolins, despite being listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 continue to be the world’s most trafficked mammal.
  • The primary demand for its scales in the making of traditional East Asian medicines has led to an estimated illegal trade worth $2.5 billion every year.
  • To enforce the appropriate national and international laws and to track the decline of the species, researchers of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Kolkata, have now developed tools to tell apart the scales of Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla).
  • They characterised the morphological features and investigated genetic variations between the two species by sequencing 624 scales of pangolins and comparing the sequences with all eight pangolin species.
  • Based on the size, shape, weight and ridge counts on the scales, the team was able to categorise the two species of Indian and Chinese pangolins.
  • Though the Chinese pangolin is distributed mostly in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the north-eastern part of India is also its home.

SWAMIH completes its first residential project.

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Policies and governance

In news

  • Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs handed over possession to homebuyers as Special Window for Affordable & Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Fund completes its first residential project.

Key takeaways

  • The residential project – Rivali Park, located in suburban Mumbai, was the first housing project in India to have received funding under the SWAMIH Fund. 
  • The SWAMIH Fund was launched in 2019. 
  • Rivali Park Wintergreens is the first investment by the Fund and is also the first project to get completed.
  • The SWAMIH Investment Fund is one of the largest private equity teams in India and has done commendable work despite COVID-19 related restrictions.
  • The Fund is targeting to complete an aggregate of 1,16,600 homes.
  • This Fund is bridging the trust deficit between homebuyers and developers by completing construction and delivering homes without depending on any other source of finance.

Smokeless Cremation system developed

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Sci & tech

In news

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar has developed a prototype of a moveable electric cremation system which claims to be using first of its kind technology that involves smokeless cremation despite using wood.

Key takeaways

  • It uses half of the wood otherwise required for the cremation.
  • It is eco-friendly because of the technology that uses the combustion air system.
  • It is based on wick-stove technology in which the wick when lighted glows yellow. 
  • This is converted into smokeless blue flame with the help of combustion air system installed over the wicks.
  • The cremation system or incinerator heats up at 1044 degree Celsius which ensures complete sterilization.
  • Keeping in view the present pandemic situation, if this system is adopted, it may provide respectable cremation to the near and dear ones of those who cannot afford the financial burden of arranging wood.

Idea of placing convicts under house arrest

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Legislature; Judiciary 

In news

  • The Supreme Court has thrown open the door to the legislature to “ponder” over the idea of placing convicts under house arrest to avoid overcrowding of prisons.

Key takeaways 

  • A Bench of Justices U.U. Lalit and K.M. Joseph, in a judgment, highlighted the “alarming” statistics of prisons.
  • The suggestion is relevant considering the spread of COVID-19.
  • A few days ago, a Bench, led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, issued a series of directions, including the grant of interim bail and parole to prisoners to decongest prisons.
  • The occupancy rate in prisons had climbed to 118.5% in 2019. 
  • National Crime Records Bureau’s figures of 2019 show that 18,86,092 inmates were admitted in jails.
  • The number of undertrial prisoners in 2019 was 3,30,487, which, in fact, constituted 69.05% of the total number of prisoners. 
  • Secondly, a very large sum (₹6818.1 crore) was the budget for prisons.
  • The “tremendous” overcrowding of prisons and the huge budget were both relevant in the context of the possibilities that house arrest offers. 

(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ HEALTH

Topic:

  • GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 

Reforms needed in WHO

Context:  Recently, a report released by an independent panel co-chaired by former New Zealand PM Helen Clark linked the severity of the global outbreak to deficiencies across governments, the WHO and other multilateral organisations.

Issues raised by the Panel

  1. Late warning: In the first weeks of the pandemic, the WHO could have warned countries to assume that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was spreading among people, as a precaution
  2. Late Declaration of Pandemic: WHO also could have declared the outbreak in Wuhan, China, a public health emergency of international concern — the highest level of global alert — earlier by at least January 22, 2020.
  3. Weak Body: The WHO should have the power to investigate outbreaks speedily, with guaranteed rights of access and with the ability to publish information without waiting for a member state’s approval (China)
  4. A month of lost opportunity: Most countries failed to heed the warning, choosing to “wait and see,” rather than take firmer measures that could have contained the virus.
  5. Need for greater role by International Organisations: WHO and WTO should help broker an agreement among major vaccine-producing countries and manufacturers on voluntary licensing and transferring vaccine technology to third parties.
  6. Need for specialised Council: The panel also called for the creation of a Global Health Threats Council that will maintain political commitment to pandemic preparedness and response and hold actors accountable
  7. A Pandemic Framework Convention within six months was recommended by the Panel to address gaps in international regulations, and to clarify responsibilities between states and international organisations
  8. Changes in Financing: An international pandemic-financing facility is needed that is capable of disbursing $5 billion to $10 billion a year for preparedness and $50 billion to $100 billion in the event of a crisis
  9. The panel also recommended single, seven-year term for the WHO director-general and regional directors.

Conclusion

Covid-19 is the 21st century’s Chernobyl moment — not because a disease outbreak is like a nuclear accident, but because it has shown so clearly the gravity of the threat to our health and well-being.

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 Crime Records Bureau comes under which of the following Ministry?

  1. Ministry of Defence
  2. Ministry of urban affairs
  3. Ministry of Home affairs
  4. None of the above

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Special Window for Affordable & Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Fund: 

  1. Rivali Park Wintergreens is the first project to get completed located in Rajasthan.
  2. The SWAMIH Investment Fund is one of the largest private equity teams in 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.3 Consider the following statements regarding Pangolins:

  1. Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammal.
  2. They are listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 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 

ANSWERS FOR 13th May 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 A

Must Read

On reforming medical education:

The Hindu

On Ethics in Ed-Tech:

The Hindu

On Israel’s action against Palestinians:

Indian Express

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