(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and GS – III- Health & Diseases
Context: After a gap of over three years, a case of the zoonotic Nipah virus infection was reported in Kerala, with the death of a 12-year-old boy at a private hospital.
About Nipah Virus
- The first outbreaks of the Nipah virus among humans was reported from Malaysia (1998) and Singapore (1999).
- The virus takes its name from the village in Malaysia where the person in whom the virus was first isolated died of the disease.
- It is a zoonotic virus, meaning it has been transmitted from animals to human beings.
- Fruit bats, commonly known as flying fox, are considered to be a natural reservoir of the virus. Fruit bats are known to transmit this virus to other animals like pigs, and also dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.
- Humans get infected mainly through direct contact with these animals. The virus can also be passed on through food contaminated by saliva or urine of these infected animals or directly from person-to-person.
- Symptoms include acute encephalitis and respiratory illnesses.
- The Nipah virus is known to spread far more slowly than SARS-CoV-2. However, it is its ability to kill that is the biggest concern
Part of: Prelims and GS – III- Space
Context: SpaceX announced that ‘Inspiration4’, its first all-civilian, non-governmental spaceflight, is on track for launch on September 15.
- Inspiration4 is the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit.
- The flight will be privately operated by SpaceX (US Private Space Company) using a previously-flown Crew Dragon capsule launched to low Earth orbit.
- Inspiration4 will blast off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on September 15.
- The mission involves circling the Earth for three days, and then splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean.
- Inspiration4 will orbit the Earth at 575km, higher than the International Space Station (408km) and the Hubble space telescope (547km).
- This will be the farthest distance travelled by a crewed mission since 2009, when astronauts last went to repair the Hubble.
- The mission will raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in US.
Do You Know?
- SpaceX company’s Ax-1 mission, also planned for the end of 2021, hosts a crew of four private astronauts paying $55 million each for an eight-day trip to the ISS.
- In 2018, Elon Musk also announced Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will take a ride around the moon on SpaceX’s new rocket system Starship, which is under development.
- Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond.
Part of: Prelims and GS – III- Economy
Context: Recently, eight of India’s major banks — SBI, ICICI, Axis, IDFC First Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, HDFC Bank, IndusInd Bank and Federal Bank — joined the Account Aggregator (AA) network that will enable customers to easily access and share their financial data.
- The framework, which has been under discussion since 2016 and in the testing phase for some time, will now be open to all customers.
About Account Aggregator
- According to RBI, an Account Aggregator is a non-banking financial company engaged in the business of providing the service of retrieving or collecting financial information pertaining to its customer.
- It is also engaged in consolidating, organising and presenting such information to the customer or any other financial information user as may be specified by the bank.
- An Account Aggregator is a financial utility for secure flow of data controlled by the individual.
- It will compile all the digital footprints of the customer at one place and make it easy for lenders to access it.
- The licence for AAs is issued by the RBI, and the financial sector will have many AAs.
- Significance of AA:
- It reduces the need for individuals to wait in long bank queues, use Internet banking portals or share their passwords to access and share their financial documents.
- It is an addition to India’s digital infrastructure as it will allow banks to access consented data flows and verified data. This will help banks reduce transaction costs & offer more tailored products and services to customers.
- It will also help us reduce frauds and comply with upcoming privacy laws.
What is AA Framework?
- The AA framework was created through an inter-regulatory decision by RBI and other regulators including SEBI, IRDAI, and PFRDA through and initiative of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).
- The AA framework allows customers to avail various financial services from a host of providers on a single portal based on a consent method, under which the consumers can choose what financial data to share and with which entity.
Can an AA see or store data?
- Data transmitted through the AA is encrypted. AAs are not allowed to store, process and sell the customer’s data.
- No financial information accessed by the AA from a Bank should reside with the AA.
- It should not use the services of a third-party service provider for undertaking the business of account aggregation.
- User authentication credentials of customers relating to accounts with various Banks shall not be accessed by the AA.
Part of: Prelims and GS – II- International Relations
Context: India is all set to conclude the bilateral logistics agreement with Russia soon while the agreement with the U.K. is in the final stages of conclusion.
- The Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS) is likely to be signed by Indiain next two months
- The agreement is an administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement
- This cooperation simplifies logistical support and increases operational turnaround of the military when operating away from India.
- India has signed similar logistics agreements with all Quad countries, France, Singapore and South Korea beginning with LEMOA with the U.S in 2016.
About LEMOA: The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement
- It was signed between India and the US in August 2016.
- It allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases: access supplies, spare parts and services from the other country’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
- This is extremely useful for Navy-to-Navy cooperation, since the US and India are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.
- To put this simple words, it is like going to a friend’s garage and workshop to refuel one’s car and getting repairs done. But, by doing this, one is also exposing one’s car and technology to the friend, and that requires trust.
- If signing LEMOA needed trust, its application enhances the trust. It took almost a decade to negotiate LEMOA.
Read More on Indo-US Defence Deals
Part of: Prelims and GS – I- Geography
Context: Environmentalists have expressed concern over the massive diversion of fresh water from the Brahmani river basin, which could pose a grave threat to the famous mangrove vegetation in Odisha.
- The Talcher-Angul coal mines, steel and power plants as well as the Kalinganagar steel and power hub are drawing enormous quantities of fresh water from the Brahmani river.
- The Brahmani is a major seasonal river in the Odisha state of eastern India.
- The Brahmani is formed by the confluence of the Sankh and South Koel rivers.
- Together with the river Baitarani, it forms a large delta before emptying into the Bay of Bengal at Dhamra.
- Bhitarkanika — a notified Ramsar wetland — is spread over 195 sq. km and is home to 62 mangrove species.
- Proportionate fresh water flow from the Brahmani river basin and the Kharasrota river keep the salinity level of the water along the shore down.
(News from PIB)
Part of: GS Prelims
In News: The 28th edition of Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) was conducted from 02 to 04 Sep 21.
- Initiated in 1994
- Indian Navy’s longest uninterrupted bilateral maritime exercise with any foreign navy i.e., Singapore
Significance of bilateral defence ties between both countries
- Sustained the continuity of this significant engagement despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic
- Despite these constraints during the planning stages, both navies could achieve seamless and safe execution of several challenging evolutions including live weapon firing and advanced naval warfare serials, including anti-submarine, anti-air and anti-surface warfare drills.
- The scale and complexity of the drills is ample testimony to the interoperability achieved between both Navies.
News Source: PIB
Part of: GS-1: Personalities in Indian national movement
In News: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has remembered freedom fighter V. O. Chidambaram Pillai on his 150th birth anniversary.
About V. O. Chidambaram Pillai
- Born on September 5, 1872, Pillai is popularly known as ‘Kappalottiya Tamizhan’ or “The Tamil Helmsman”
- He is best remembered for the venture he ran against tremendous odds, the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, to challenge the monopoly of the British in sea trade. He launched the first indigenous Indian shipping service between Tuticorin and Colombo with the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company (SSNC), competing against British ships. Pillai’s ambitions were high—though services were restricted to Tuticorin and Colombo, Swadeshi aimed to “popularize the art of Navigation” among “Nations of the East”, to employ “Asiatics”, to open dockyards, and do whatever it could to revitalize India’s maritime traditions.
- Tuticorin Port Trust, one of India’s thirteen major ports, is named after him.
- Play on V. O. Chidambaram Pillai: Desabhaktar Chidambaranar
- Film on his life: Kappalottiya Tamizhan
News Source: PIB
- GS-1: Indian Society & its challenges
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
Context: Introducing reservations for OBCs in the All India Quota of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) examinations.
- In deeply unequal and oppressive social order of Indian Society, some sort of state support (like reservations) is needed to promote inclusive development.
- Through reservations, marginalised groups — which have suffered generations of oppression and humiliation — would be able to find place in the power sharing and decision-making processes.
However, reservation has not translated into an equalisation of life chances for many groups in our heterogeneous society.
- Intra-Group Demands: There is now a strong demand to revise the policy, from those who have not been able to enjoy the benefits of reservations from within the marginalised sections
- Asymmetrical distribution of reservation: 97% of central OBC quota benefits go to just under 25% of its castes. As many as 983 OBC communities — 37% of the total — have zero representation in both central government jobs and admissions to central universities. (G.Rohini Commission report)
- Insufficiency of Data: There is hardly any legible data on the socio-economic conditions of varied social groups at State & local level. Also, we do not know what liberalisation has done to castes which remained tied to more traditional sources of income.
There is a need for an institution alike the Equal Opportunities Commission of the USA or UK which can undertake the following:
- Make a deprivation index by using the data from the socio-economic-based census of different communities and rank them to make policies specific to each deprived community.
- Undertake an audit on performance of employers and educational institutions on non-discrimination and equal opportunity provided.
- Issue codes of good practice in different sectors.
Connecting the dots:
- Reviewing Reservations
- ‘Creamy layer’ and exclusion from reservation
- Andhra Pradesh Locals First Policy
- Madhya Pradesh domicile based quota
- Reservation is not a fundamental right
- GS-2: India and its neighbourhood.
- GS-3: Economic Challenges
Context: Sri Lanka’s government declared an economic emergency amid rising food prices, a depreciating currency, and rapidly depleting forex reserves.
- President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has called in the army to manage the crisis by rationing the supply of various essential goods.
Why is Sri Lanka’s economy in trouble?
A number of factors have led to the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
- The tourism industry, which represents over 10% of the country’s GDP and brings in foreign exchange, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
- As a result, forex reserves have dropped from over $7.5 billion in 2019 to around $2.8 billion in July 2021.
- With the supply of foreign exchange reducing, the amount of money that Sri Lankans have had to shell out to purchase the foreign exchange necessary to import goods has risen. So the value of the Sri Lankan rupee has depreciated by around 8% so far this year.
- Sri Lanka depends heavily on imports to meet even its basic food supplies. So the price of food items has risen in tandem with the depreciating Sri Lankan rupee.
- The government’s ban on the use of chemical fertilisers in farming (to make the country 100% organic) has further aggravated the crisis by reducing agricultural production
- It is predicted that the forced push towards organic farming could halve the production of tea and other crops and lead to a food crisis that is even worse than the current one
What has been the government’s response to the crisis?
- The Sri Lankan government has blamed speculators for causing the rise in food prices by hoarding essential supplies and has declared an economic emergency under the Public Security Ordinance.
- The army has been tasked with the duty of seizing food supplies from traders and supplying them to consumers at fair prices.
- It has also been given the powers to ensure that forex reserves are used only for the purchase of essential goods.
- The government has refused to end its aggressive push for complete organic farming claiming that the short-term pain of going organic will be compensated by its long-term benefits. It has also promised to supply farmers with organic fertilisers as an alternative.
- Further, Sri Lanka’s central bank in early 2021 prohibited traders from exchanging more than 200 Sri Lankan rupees for an American dollar and stopped traders from entering into forward currency contracts.
Will the government’s response help the economy?
- The President’s drive to make Sri Lankan agriculture fully organic is likely to lead to a significant drop in domestic food production and cause a further rise in prices.
- Also, the various steps taken by the government to tackle the crisis may actually make things worse.
- The capping of food prices, for instance, can lead to severe shortages as demand exceeds supply at the price fixed by the government.
- People have already had to queue up to buy essential goods due to rising shortages.
- The strong-arm tactics of the army can also have unintended consequences. When supplies are seized from traders, there is lesser incentive for them to bring in fresh supplies to the market. This can lead to a further drop in supplies and even higher prices for essential goods.
Government has to take necessary remedial measures so as to prevent the economic crisis turning into socio-political crisis.
Connecting the dots:
Spotlight Sep 5: DISCUSSION ON “KARBI ANGLONG PEACE ACCORD
- GS-2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
- GS-3: Internal Security
IIn News: A historic Karbi Anglong Agreement to end the decades old crisis ensuring Assam’s territorial integrity was signed. With the signing of the agreement, the union government said that those who shun violence will be “brought into the mainstream” and the government will “talk to them even more politely and give them more than their demands”.
- A Special Development Package of Rs. 1000 crores over five years will be given by the Union Government and Assam Government to undertake specific projects for the development of Karbi areas.
- Ensure greater devolution of autonomy to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, protection of identity, language, culture, etc. of Karbi people and focussed development of the Council area, without affecting the territorial and administrative integrity of Assam.
- The Karbi armed groups have agreed to abjure violence and join the peaceful democratic process as established by law of the land. The Agreement also provides for rehabilitation of cadres of the armed groups. The cadre of the armed forces would be encouraged to take part in various employment generation activities of the government and other government benefits.
- The Government of Assam shall set up a Karbi Welfare Council for focused development of Karbi people living outside KAAC area.
- The Consolidated Fund of the State will be augmented to supplement the resources of KAAC. Overall, the present settlement proposes to give more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to KAAC.
- Army, paramilitary forces and police shall organise a special drive for the recruitment of the Karbi youth. Cases filed against the armed groups which are non- heinous in nature shall be withdrawn by the Assam government in accordance with the law and as far as heinous cases are concerned a call will be taken on a case-to-case basis.
- The Assam government will provide financial compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of the next of kin of persons who lost their lives in agitations related to autonomous State demand and have not yet been compensated in any manner.
- Apart from the Bodoland movement and the one led by ULFA for a sovereign Assam, the Karbi insurgency — for a separate state of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills — is one of the several insurgencies that Assam has faced over the years.
- The Karbi have been demanding a separate state since 1946. Later, their movement took the shape of an insurgency which intensified in the 1990s. The Centre signed various ceasefire agreements with different groups but there were always breakaway factions that continued armed struggle.
- In February 2021, just ahead of the Assam assembly polls, 1,040 militants of five Karbi outfits surrendered before then Chief Minister Sonowal. The current accord is a result of negotiations with the five groups since then.
- The tripartite MoU was signed twice in 1995 and 2011, but these agreements had failed to establish peace in Karbi-Anglong. The recent agreement is the result of several rounds of talks between the central government and representatives of the Karbi and Kuki organisations in an effort to find a comprehensive and final solution to the demands of the Karbi group, while upholding the territorial integrity of Assam.
- This agreement hopes to put that in the past.
- Located in central Assam, Karbi Anglong is the state’s largest district and a melting pot of ethnicities and tribal groups — Karbi, Dimasa, Bodo, Kuki, Hmar, Tiwa, Garo, Man (Tai speakers), Rengma Naga.
- It is an autonomous district under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution and is divided into two parts — East Karbi Anglong (EKA) and West Karbi Anglong (WKA) — with its administrative headquarters at Diphu town in EKA.
- The Karbi Anglong District Council (KADC), which safeguards the rights of the tribal people, was upgraded to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) in April 1995.
- Its diversity also spawned different outfits and fuelled an insurgency that did not allow the region to develop.
Discuss: An Insurgency-free prosperous Northeast
(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.
Q.1 The Karbi Anglong insurgency often seen in the news is associated with which of the following state?
- Arunachal Pradesh
Q.2 Consider the following statements about Account Aggregators (AAs)
- It will compile all the digital footprints of the customer at one place and make it easy for lenders to access it.
- The licence for AAs is issued by the Ministry of Finance
Select the Correct statements:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3 SIMBEX is bilateral exercise between India and __________
- South Korea
- South Africa
ANSWERS FOR 3rd Sept 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On Judicial role in lawmaking process:
On Nutrition and Sanitation:
On ADM Jabalpur Case & Right to Life (useful for PSIR Students):