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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 18 January 2020

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 18 January 2020

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Corona Virus

2. Sikhs in US to be counted as separate ethnic group.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Block Chain Technology.

2. Development Support Services For States/UTs (DSSS) For Infrastructure Projects.

3. Australian Bushfires.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Z Morh tunnel.

2. Winged Raider.

3. Sahyog-Kaijin.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Coronavirus

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Coronavirus- symptoms, spread and treatment.

 Context: The United States will begin screening efforts at three US airports to detect travellers from the central Chinese city of Wuhan who may have symptoms of a new respiratory virus- Coronavirus.

About Coronavirus:

  • Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
  • Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

Symptoms:

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Transmission:

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  1. the air by coughing and sneezing.
  2. close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  3. touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
  4. rarely, fecal contamination.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Sikhs in US to be counted as  separate ethnic group

What to study?

For Prelims: How are ethnic groups classified in the US?

For Mains: Implications of this move.

What’s the News?

Sikhs in the US will be counted as a separate ethnic group in the 2020 census for the first time.

 Background:

Over a million Sikhs are estimated to be living in the US. One of the reasons for advocating the inclusion of Sikhs as a separate ethnic group is so “that action can be taken to address Sikh issues of significance such as bullying, intimidation and hate crimes against the community.”

 How are race and ethnicity defined under the US Census?

The US Census Bureau considers race and ethnicity as two distinct and separate concepts. It adheres to the 1997 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards on race and ethnicity.

  1. There are five broad categories under which race is categorised. These are White, Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. This is a social definition of race recognised and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically.
  2. Ethnicity determines whether a person is of Hispanic origin or not. For consideration under the US Census, ethnicity is broken down into two categories: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino.

What are the benefits of this move?

  1. Ensure an accurate count of Sikhs in the United States.
  2. Help in tracking and measuring hate crimes against the community.
  3. Ensure an equal and accurate representation of Sikhs.
  4. Useful in providing access to members of Congress and other essential government services for the needs of the community.

Elsewhere:

Apart from the US, Sikhs in Britain have also demanded inclusion as a separate ethnic group. In November 2019, British Sikhs took the government to court over the “unlawful” refusal to treat them as a separate ethnic group. It is estimated that there are over 800,000 Sikhs in the UK.

Furthermore, Sikhs are one of the fastest-growing religious minorities in New Zealand, where they are considered to be a distinct ethnic group. Other ethnic groups in New Zealand include Punjabis, Bengalis, Indian Tamils and Fijian Indian, among others.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology.

Block Chain Technology

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Blockchain technology- what is it? How it operates? Concerns and potential.

Context: National Informatics Centre (NIC) has set up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Blockchain Technology in Bengaluru, which will provide Blockchain as a service and allow stakeholders to benefit from shared learning, experiences and resources.

Functions:

  1. The Centre of Excellence will facilitate various government departments in building proof of concepts for use of Blockchain technology in different dimensions of governance, leading to large scale deployment of some such applications.
  2. With National Informatics Centre (NIC) providing a robust and an agile infrastructure, the CoE shall also provide Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) for efficient hosting of Blockchain network, says an official release.

What are Blockchains?

Blockchains are a new data structure that is secure, cryptography-based, and distributed across a network.

  • The technology supports cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and the transfer of any data or digital asset.
  • Spearheaded by Bitcoin, blockchains achieve consensus among distributed nodes, allowing the transfer of digital goods without the need for centralized authorisation of transactions.

How it operates?

  1. The technology allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure, peer-to-peer, instant and frictionless.
  2. It does this by distributing trust from powerful intermediaries to a large global network, which through mass collaboration, clever code and cryptography, enables a tamper-proof public ledger of every transaction that’s ever happened on the network.
  3. A block is the “current” part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed, goes into the blockchain as permanent database.
  4. Each time a block gets completed, a new block is generated. Blocks are linked to each other (like a chain) in proper linear, chronological order with every block containing a hash of the previous block.

Benefits of blockchain technology:

  1. As a public ledger system, blockchain records and validate each and every transaction made, which makes it secure and reliable.
  2. All the transactions made are authorized by miners, which makes the transactions immutable and prevent it from the threat of hacking.
  3. Blockchain technology discards the need of any third-party or central authority for peer-to-peer transactions.
  4. It allows decentralization of the technology.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure

Development Support Services For States/UTs (DSSS) For Infrastructure Projects

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About the project- features and significance.

Context: NITI Aayog and Ladakh Union Territory have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, under which NITI Aayog will support the administration of the Ladakh through its initiative “Development Support Services to States for Infrastructure Projects” (DSSS).

About Development Support Services For States/UTs (DSSS) For Infrastructure Projects:

  • Implemented by NITI Aayog.
  • Aim: To achieve transformational, sustained delivery of infrastructure projects with state of art capacity disseminated at all levels of governance.
  • The key objective: Creating PPP success stories and rebooting infrastructure project delivery models so a sustainable infrastructure creation cycle is established.
  • How it works? The DSSS Infrastructure initiative involves providing project level support from Concept plan till financial closure to State Governments / UTs.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Australian Bushfires

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Forest fires- reasons, impact and preparedness.

Context: Australia was recently ravaged by the worst wildfires seen in decades, with large swaths of the country devastated since the fire season began.

All this has been exacerbated by persistent heat and drought, and many point to climate change as a factor making natural disasters go from bad to worse.

Regions affected:

There have been fires in every Australian state, but New South Wales has been hardest hit.

Blazes have torn through bushland, wooded areas, and national parks like the Blue Mountains.

Some of Australia’s largest cities have also been affected, including Melbourne and Sydney — where fires have damaged homes in the outer suburbs and thick plumes of smoke have blanketed the urban center.

What is causing the fires?

Each year there is a fire season during the Australian summer, with hot, dry weather making it easy for blazes to start and spread.

Natural causes are to blame most of the time, like lightning strikes in drought-affected forests.

Dry lightning was responsible for starting a number of fires in Victoria’s East Gippsland region.

Humans can also be to blame. NSW police have charged at least 24 people with deliberately starting bushfires.

Challenges that Australia is facing:

Australia is experiencing one of its worst droughts in decades- last spring was the driest on record.

Meanwhile, a heatwave in December broke the record for highest nationwide average temperature, with some places sweltering under temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius (about 113-120 degrees Fahrenheit).

Strong winds have also made the fires and smoke spread more rapidly.

Experts say climate change has worsened the scope and impact of natural disasters like fires and floods — weather conditions are growing more extreme, and for years, the fires have been starting earlier in the season and spreading with greater intensity.

What has been the damage so far?

  • Entire towns have been engulfed in flames, and residents across several states have lost their homes.
  • The heaviest structural damage occurred in NSW, the country’s most populated state, where 1,588 homes have been destroyed and over 650 damaged.
  • In total, more than 7.3 million hectares (17.9 million acres) have been burned across Australia’s six states — an area larger than the countries of Belgium and Denmark combined.
  • The worst-affected state is NSW, with more than 4.9 million hectares (12.1 million acres) burned.
  • Number of total animals affected could be as high as one billion nationwide. Almost a third of koalas in NSW may have been killed in the fires, and a third of their habitat has been destroyed.

When will the fires end?

Unfortunately, Australia is only about halfway through its summer season. Normally, temperatures peak in January and February, meaning the country could be months away from finding relief.

The fires are unlikely to end entirely since they are an annually occurring event — and may even get worse if recent years are a guide.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


 

Z Morh tunnel:

Context: Govt awards over Rs 2000 cr for completing Z Morh tunnel.

Key facts:

  • The 6.5-kilometre long Z-Morh tunnel is located in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The tunnel is capable of allowing 1,000 vehicles an hour at a speed of 80 km per hour.
  • Border Road Organization (BRO) was the previous implementation agency of the project. The project was however transferred to IL&FS in 2016. APCO will now complete the balance work.

 

Winged Raider:

It is Indian Army’s biggest airborne exercise conducted recently in the north-eastern theatre.

All_Weather_Road

‘Sahyog-Kaijin’:

  • It is a joint coast guard exercise between India and Japan.
  • The aim is to strengthen the bond between the two countries.
  • The latest edition is being held in India.