DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th May 2021

  • IASbaba
  • May 19, 2021
  • 0
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
Print Friendly, PDF & Email



Weathering of oldest rock paintings due to climate change

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Climate change

In news

  • Scientists have warned that environmental degradation is killing one of the oldest and most precious pieces of the world’s human heritage.

Key takeaways

  • Pleistocene-era rock paintings dating back to 45,000-20,000 years ago are weathering at an alarming rate.
  • Location: Cave sites in Maros-Pangkep region, Southern Sulawesi, Indonesia
  • The artwork includes what is believed to be the world’s oldest hand stencil created by pressing the hand on a cave wall, and spraying wet red-mulberry pigments over it.
  • A nearby cave features the world’s oldest depiction of an animal, a warty pig painted on the wall 45,500 years ago.
  • The cave art of Sulawesi is much older than the prehistoric cave art of Europe.

U.P. Sunni Waqf Board

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

In news 

  • The Uttar Pradesh (UP) Sunni Central Waqf Board recently condemned the demolition of a mosque in Barabanki, UP and demanded its restoration.

Key takeaways

  • The UP Sunni Central Waqf Board is a body constituted under The Wakf Act, 1954.
  • It manages the affairs of Sunni Muslim waqf (charity) properties, waqf institutions and the marriage records of the Sunni Muslim community of UP.

Important value additions

  • A waqf (also known as wakf or hubous) is an inalienable charitable endowment under Islamic law. 
  • It typically involves donating a building, plot of land or other assets for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets.
  • The state waqf boards were established by the state governments in view of the provisions of Section 9(1) of the Wakf Act, 1954.
  • India also has a Central Waqf Council to advise the government “on matters concerning the working of boards and the due administration of waqfs.”

Colombo Port City

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – International relations

In news

  • A Chinese-funded tax-free enclave in Sri Lanka recently cleared the final legal hurdle as its Supreme Court gave it a go ahead.

Key takeaways

  • It is named the “Colombo Port City”.
  • It is the largest single foreign investment by China in Sri Lanka among the other massive infrastructure projects.
  • The Port City will attract billions of dollars for trade, banking and offshore services similar to what is available in Dubai and Singapore.
  • The Port City will be administered by a commission with various powers to fast track investment approvals. 
  • All transactions within the Port City will be denominated in foreign currency and all salaries earned by any worker will be tax-exempt.

New Storage Conditions For Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Biotechnology

In news 

  • The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended a change to the approved storage conditions of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 

Key takeaways

  • With the new recommendations, an unopened thawed vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be stored between 2-8 degrees Celsius for up to a month, which means that it can be stored in a regular refrigerator once it has been taken out of the deep freeze.
  • Before this, an unopened thawed vaccine vial could be kept in a regular refrigerator for a period of only up to five days.

Important value additions

  • mRNA vaccines need to be stored at much lower temperatures than some other kind of COVID-19 vaccines because RNA is much less stable than DNA
  • RNA is less stable due to: (1) The sugars that their molecules are made up of are different. In DNA, it is deoxyribose and in RNA it is ribose; (2) It has single strand, while DNA is expressed as a double-stranded helix.

Related articles

Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

New Naming System For Virus Variants

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) would unveil a system of naming of coronavirus variants similar to the way hurricanes are named

Key takeaways

  • The initiative seeks to remove stigma that gets attached to the country it was discovered in. 
  • It will also be easier for the public to remember rather than their lineage numbers
  • Scientists refer to viruses and their variants by formal lineage names, which are a combination of letters and names that point to the relationships between different variants.
  • Variants such as B.1.1.7 and B.1.617 suggest that they have certain mutations in common and provide clues to their evolutionary history.
  • However, 1.1.7 started to be known as the ‘U.K. variant’ and B.1.351 as the ‘South African’ variant.

Related articles

South African Covid Variant

Double Mutant Coronavirus Variant in India

(Mains Focus)



  • 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 issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources

India’s health worker brain drain

Context: The surge in COVID cases across the country could lead to overburdening health workers and eventually causing shortage of them. Besides treating Covid patients, they will also have to administer vaccines, now available to the country’s entire adult population.

Do You Know?

  • As per government reports, India has 1.7 nurses per 1,000 population and a doctor to patient ratio of 1:1,404 — this is well below the WHO norm of three nurses per 1,000 population and a doctor to patient ratio of 1:1,100. 
  • The 2020 Human Development Report shows that India has five hospital beds per 10,000 people — one of the lowest in the world
  • According to Dr Devi Shetty, India will need an extra five lakh ICU beds, two lakh nurses and 1.5 lakh doctors in the next few weeks.

Issue of health Workers Brain Drain

  • Migration of Health Workers lead to shortage: For several decades, India has been a major exporter of healthcare workers to developed nations particularly to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Europe and other English-speaking countries. And this is part of the reason for the shortage in nurses and doctors.
    • As per OECD data, around 69,000 Indian trained doctors worked in the UK, US, Canada and Australia in 2017. In these four countries, 56,000 Indian-trained nurses were working in the same year
  • Factors of Migration: Pull factors include higher pay and better opportunities in the destination countries while push factors include low wages in India’s private sector, lack of govt investment, delayed appointment and reduced opportunities in public sector.
  • Countries tweaking policies to attract & retain health workers: At the beginning of the pandemic, OECD countries exempted health professionals with a job offer from the travel bans.  The UK has granted free one-year visa extensions to eligible overseas healthcare workers and their dependents. Similarly, France has offered citizenship to frontline immigrant healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Has government taken measures to check brain drain of health workers?

  • In 2014, government stopped issuing No Objection to Return to India (NORI) certificates to doctors migrating to the US. The non-issuance of the NORI would ensure that the doctors will have to return to India at the end of the three-year period.
  • The government has included nurses in the Emigration Check Required (ECR) category. This move was taken to bring about transparency in nursing recruitment and reduce exploitation of nurses in the destination countries. 
  • The government’s policies to check brain drain are restrictive in nature and do not give us a real long-term solution to the problem

Way Ahead

  • We require systematic changes that could range from 
    • Increased investment in health infrastructure, 
    • Ensuring decent pay to workers 
    • Building an overall environment that could prove to be beneficial for them and motivate them to stay in the country.
  • The government should focus on framing policies that promote circular migration and return migration — policies that incentivise healthcare workers to return home after the completion of their training or studies
  • It could also work towards framing bilateral agreements that could help shape a policy of “brain-share” between the sending and receiving countries — the destination countries of the migrants would be obliged to supply healthcare workers to their country of origin in times of need, 

Connecting the dots:



  • 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 issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Rethinking PSE Policy

Context: Recently, the government said that it will be using three public sector enterprises (PSE) for manufacturing Covaxin to augment the manufacturing capacity under Mission COVID Suraksha. These were 

  • Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, a State PSE under the Maharashtra government;
  •  Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL), Hyderabad — a facility under National Dairy Development Board; 
  • Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Corporation Ltd (BIBCOL), Bulandshahr, a CPSE under the Department of Biotechnology.

This has revived the debate on the relevance of PSEs

  • Cannot entirely do away with PSEs: Since Independence, PSEs have played a pivotal role in realising the objective of achieving higher growth and equitable socio-economic development of the country. So to say the government has no business to be in doing business perhaps needs to be revisited
  • Crucial Role in testing times: PSEs in the steel, petroleum and natural gas sectors have supplemented the efforts of the government in making available liquid medical oxygen as well as transportation of it.
  • Contribution of PSE Employees: PSEs by their inherent work culture spend a lot of time and resources in manpower training and developing expertise. Former public sector employees, after retirement or having quit jobs and then joined private sector, have given the right kind of impetus to the industry, particularly the core sector of the economy. 

Importance of Pharma PSE

  • Self-reliance: The public sector drug companies were established with a vision to make the country self-reliant in producing medicines needed for the people of the country 
  • Free & Fair Market: Strong presence of Pharma PSEs helps save an industry like the drug industry from the clutches of MNCs and the private corporate sector.
  • Ensures affordability during crisis times: Pandemic has resulted in loss of imports from China. This directly resulted in escalation of prices of everyday medicines like paracetamol in the Indian market. Expansion of Pharma PSE units at these times will make medicines affordable.

Way Ahead

  • There is a need to revisit the PSE policy, but more in terms of their functioning — by empowering the boards of these entities, making them more autonomous. 
  • These companies should be run by a professional board without government interference. These PSEs could be run under the PPP model or as JVs too. 
  • Board members should be highly respected, knowledgeable, and from industry, management, finance and research fields.

Connecting the dots:


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 Maros-Pangkep region, Southern Sulawesi, Indonesia, was recently in news for which of the following?

  1. Surge in Covid-19 cases despite vaccination
  2. Forest fires
  3. Volcanic eruption
  4. Environmental degradation of oldest rock paintings 

Q.2 RNA is less stable than DNA due to which of the following?

  1. The molecules are made up of sugars different from DNA. 
  2. RNA has Single strand instead of double strand.

Select the correct the code:

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


1 C
2 A
3 C

Must Read

On ICMR’s dropping of plasma therapy:

The Hindu

Tracking the pandemic’s rural march:

The Hindu

About Delhi Oxygen Crisis:

Indian Express

For a dedicated peer group, Motivation & Quick updates, Join our official telegram channel – https://t.me/IASbabaOfficialAccount

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE to watch Explainer Videos, Strategy Sessions, Toppers Talks & many more…

Search now.....

Sign Up To Receive Regular Updates