Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
1. COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
2. What is Google subsidiary Verily?
3. Herd immunity.
4. Stafford Act.
5. What is excise duty?
6. Who will represent Delhi Police?
7. Boko Haram.
8. What is community transmission?
9. Emergency covid-19 fund for Saarc nations.
10. Categorisation of industries.
11. Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
12. Country’s first women-only medical college.
13. University for Peace (UPEACE).
PIB one liner facts.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Issues related to Health.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: OneHealth- features, objectives and significance.
Context: The concept of ‘One Health’, which recognises that health of human beings is connected to health of animals and environment, is gaining importance as most of the contagious diseases affecting humans are zoonotic (animal to man origin) in nature.
The concept of One Health can be effectively implemented for reducing incidence of emerging zoonotic threats like COVID-19.
What is OneHealth concept?
- One Health is the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment, as defined by the One Health Initiative Task Force.
- One Health model facilitates interdisciplinary approach in disease control so as to control emerging and existing zoonotic threats.
What are common One Health issues?
One Health issues include zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, food safety and food security, vector-borne diseases, environmental contamination, and other health threats shared by people, animals, and the environment. Even the fields of chronic disease, mental health, injury, occupational health, and noncommunicable diseases can benefit from a One Health approach involving collaboration across disciplines and sectors.
Significance of the model:
- One Health model is a globally accepted model for research on epidemiology, diagnosis and control of zoonotic diseases.
- The WHO is very effectively addressing emerging issues of antimicrobial resistance through One Health research.
- All the developing countries are in the process of promoting One Health research for developing a sustainable disease control system.
Need of the hour is to scale up such a model across the country and to establish meaningful research collaborations across the world.
- One Health component under the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well Being.
- Zoonotic vs vector-borne diseases.
- Common OneHealth issues.
One Health model is a globally accepted model for research on epidemiology, diagnosis and control of zoonotic diseases. Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims: What are SDGs? Key changes approved by UNSC recently.
For Mains: Relevance, need for and significance of these changes.
Context: Thirty-six major changes to the global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were approved and adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC), at its 51st session that concluded on March 6, 2020, in New York.
The revised global framework will have 231 indicators, approximately the same number as in the original framework.
These changes are based on the ‘2020 comprehensive review’ conducted by the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs).
Eight additional indicators were added across six SDG goals — 2, 3, 4, 10, 13 and 16. These include:
- Indicator 13.2.2 on the total greenhouse gas emissions per year for the SDG target 13.2 to integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
- Prevalence of anaemia in women aged 15-49 years, by pregnancy status (percentage) under the target 2.2 to end forms of malnutrition by 2030.
- A new indicator on reducing the percentage of bloodstream infections due to selected antimicrobial-resistant organisms has been added under the Global health goal (SDG 3).
- Indicator 10.7.3 on the number of migrants killed while attempting to cross maritime, land and air borders.
- Indicator 10.7.4 on the proportion of the population who are refugees, by country of origin.
Six indicators across six SDG goals — 1, 4, 8, 11, 13 and 17 — have been deleted. These include:
- Indicator 1.a.1 on the proportion of domestically-generated resources allocated by the government directly to poverty reduction programmes.
- Indicator 4.2.1 on the proportion of children under five years of age who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being, by sex.
- The portion of the indicator that measures progress for children between 0 and 23 months of age, which is currently in tier III was proposed for deletion by the IAEG.
- Under the SDG goal on combating climate change, the indicator 13.3.2, quantifying the number of countries that have communicated the strengthening of capacity-building for implementing adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer, and development actions has been deleted.
- SDGs vs MDGs- similarities, differences and time period.
- Adoption and administration of these goals.
- United Nations Conference on the Human Environment vs Earth Summit.
- UNCED vs UNCSD.
- Rio+20 vs Agenda 21.
- Addis Ababa Action.
- Goals related to poverty and environment.
- Intended nationally determined contributions (INDC).
Enumerate the principal goals and targets of Sustainable Development Goals.
Sources: Down to Earth.
Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
What to study?
For Prelims: Features of the Ordinance.
For Mains: Significance of the law and legal challenges ahead.
Context: The Uttar Pradesh cabinet has approved an ordinance that would allow the state to recover the cost of damages to public property from riots accused individuals.
About the UP property damage ordinance:
- The ordinance makes provisions for the setting up of claims tribunals, one or more, to “investigate the damage caused (during protests) and to award compensation” and to cover “cost of action” taken by police and administration for prevention of damage to public properties.
- Sweeping powers have been granted to a new claims tribunal, including on collecting compensation ex-parte if required, that is, without hearing the individual who is accused of vandalism.
- The award of compensation made by the tribunal will be final and cannot be appealed against before any civil court.
- Composition: The tribunal will be headed by a retired district judge appointed by the state government and may include a member who is an officer of the rank of Additional Commissioner.
- The law allows the constitution of multiple tribunals for a single event to ensure that the proceedings are concluded “preferably within three months” and allows the tribunal to appoint one assessor “who is technically qualified to assess such damage from a panel appointed by the state government”.
- Procedure to be followed: The tribunal, may follow “summary procedure as it thinks fit” and has the powers of a civil court for evaluating evidence and enforcing the attendance of witnesses. It bars any civil court from interfering with any directives of the claims tribunal.
- Burden of proof: The ordinance also places the burden of proving that one has no “nexus” to a protest, hartal, strike, bandh, riot or public commotion — during which any destruction of public or private property was caused – on the individual, failing which the individual’s properties will be seized.
- Principle of absolute liability under law shall apply once “the nexus with the event that precipitated the damage is established”. The law, however, does not specify what the nature of the “nexus” would be.
- Under Section 21(2), the new law says that while liability will be borne by the “actual perpetrators of the crime”, one who “instigates” or “incites” the crime would share the liability as per the decision of the claims tribunal. However, the law does not discuss what action constitutes incitement or instigation.
The timing of the ordinance is significant as it was promulgated four days after the SC refused to stay the Allahabad HC’s order, and a day before the HC’s deadline for removing the state government’s name-and-shame posters of alleged rioters. What remains to be seen is whether the state’s decision will pass the SC test.
- Ordinance vs Bill- similarities, differences and procedure to be followed.
- Do all ordinances require the assent of President or Governors of respective states.
- Tenure and repromulgation of ordinances.
- Applicability of judicial review.
- Jurisdiction of High Courts vs Supreme Court.
- Original vs appellate vs advisory jurisdiction of Superior Courts.
Ordinance making power is to be used as a last resort, however in reality it is not so. Discuss the safeguards that are designed to prevent misuse of ordinance making power?
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Objectives, features and significance of NCS.
Context: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour in its report has flagged the under-utilisation of funds by the Union Labour and Employment Ministry, which was yet to spend almost 20% of its 2019-2020 Budget (revised estimate) as on February 10.
The report noted that utilisation of funds for the National Career Services (NCS) scheme of the Ministry, which facilitates job-seekers, was the worst compared to other schemes.
About NCS (NATIONAL CAREER SERVICE):
It is one of the mission mode projects under the umbrella of E-Governance Plan.
It works towards bridging the gap between job-seekers and employers, candidates seeking training and career guidance and agencies providing training and career counselling by transforming the National Employment Service.
NCS provides a host of career-related services such as dynamic job matching, career counselling, job notifications, vocational guidance, information on skill development courses, internships and alike.
The focus areas for the National Career Service platform are listed below:
- Enhancing career and employment opportunities.
- Counselling and guidance for career development.
- Focusing on decent employment
- Enhancing female labour force participation.
- Encouraging entrepreneurial endeavours.
- NCS vs Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY).
- Parliamentary committees and types vs Cabinet committees.
- Constitutionally guaranteed powers of these committees.
- Heads and composition of these committees.
- Nature of recommendations made by these committees.
The parliamentary standing committees are often described as ‘mini Parliament’, where the members are able to work outside of the party whip. Discuss their significance, challenges faced and measures needed for effective operations.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Awareness in space.
What to study?
For Prelims: Key features and components of the mission, objectives and the rover of the mission.
For Mains: Significance and relevance of the mission.
Context: Launch of ExoMars rover delayed to 2022.
About the rover:
- The European-built Rosalind Franklin rover, named for the famed British chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work contributed to DNA research, recently passed final pre-launch thermal and vacuum tests at an Airbus facility in Toulouse, France.
- Rosalind Franklin is the first European Mars rover.
It is a joint endeavour between ESA and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.
The primary goal of the ExoMars programme is to address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars.
Components of the mission:
The programme comprises two missions.
- The first launched in March 2016 and consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module.
- TGO’s main objectives are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes. The Schiaparelli probe crashed during its attempt to land on Mars.
- The second, comprising a rover and surface platform, is planned for 2022. Together they will address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars.
Other Mars Missions:
Despite the delay in the second ExoMars launch until 2022, three other Mars missions remain scheduled for launch during this year’s planetary launch window in July and August.
- NASA’s Perseverance rover, formerly known as Mars 2020, will take off in July from Cape Canaveral.
- A Chinese Mars rover is also being prepared for launch later this year.
- The United Arab Emirates’ Hope Mars orbiter is slated to launch on a Japanese H-2A rocket this summer.
- InSight vs ExoMars vs Mangalyaan- objectives.
- Environmental composition of Mars vs Earth.
- Soft landing mission on Mars so far.
- Marsquakes vs Earthquakes.
Discuss the significance and objectives of ExoMars mission.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
What to study?
For Prelims: SARS-CoV-2 infection- spread, symptoms and prevention, use of soap in tackling infections.
For Mains: How does soap use help? How it works?
Context: Guidelines by the World Health Organization, to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, specify that one of the ways to reduce the risk of infection is by regularly and thoroughly cleaning one’s hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.
How does washing with soap help get rid of the coronavirus?
Using soap is more effective in removing microbes on our hands.
- Viruses such as coronavirus, influenza-causing viruses, Ebola, Zika have their genetic material encased in a layer of fat called the lipid envelop.
- Soap molecules are pin-shaped with a head that is water-loving (hydrophilic) and a tail that is oil-loving (oleophilic). Being oleophilic, the tail portion of the molecule tends to have an affinity for and ‘competes’ with the lipids in the virus envelope.
- Since the chemical bonds holding the virus together are not very strong, the long oleophilic tail gets inserted into the envelope and tends to have a ‘crowbar’ effect that breaks the lipid envelope of the virus.
- The tail also competes with the bond that binds the RNA and the lipid envelop thus dissolving the virus into its components which are then removed by water.
Do all viruses have the lipid layer?
No, certain viruses do not have the lipid envelop and are called the non-enveloped viruses. Rotavirus which causes severe diarrhoea, poliovirus, adenovirus that cause pneumonia and even human papillomavirus (HPV) do not contain the lipid envelop.
The oil-loving tail of the soap molecule also disrupts the bond that binds dirt and non-enveloped viruses to the hand. The dirt and viruses are surrounded by several tails making them remain as suspended particles. Rinsing with water washes away the suspended particles leading to clean hands.
How do alcohol-based hand sanitisers help get rid of coronavirus?
Like soap, the alcohol present in hand sanitisers dissolve the lipid envelop, thus inactivating the virus.
In addition, the alcohol also tends to change the shape or denature the mushroom-shaped protein structures that stick out of the lipid envelop. The mushroom-shaped protein structures help the virus to bind to special structures found on human cells and enter the cells. To be effective, the sanitisers should contain at least 60% alcohol.
Unlike water, alcohol run does not remove the dead viruses from the hand. While a sanitiser can quickly reduce the number of microbes, it does not get rid of all types of germs, and is “not as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy”.
WHO cautions that using a mask alone will be insufficient to provide an “adequate level of protection”. It should be combined with hand hygiene to prevent human-to-human transmission.
- Virus vs Bacteria vs fungi- structure and other differences.
- How does virus infect a host.
- Aerobic vs anaerobic bacteria.
- Hydrophilic vs Oleophilic.
- How sanitisers work?
One of the ways to reduce the risk of infection is by regularly and thoroughly cleaning one’s hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water. Discuss how this works?
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Disaster and disaster management.
What to study?
For Prelims: Features of SDRF, notified disaster.
For Mains: Need for and significance of the fund.
Context: Ministry of Home Affairs decided to treat COVID-19 as a notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
What is a disaster?
- According to the Disaster Management Act, a disaster is defined as the following, “a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area”.
- Ministry of Home Affairs has defined a disaster as an “extreme disruption of the functioning of a society that causes widespread human, material, or environmental losses that exceed the ability of the affected society to cope with its own resources.”
- 31 disaster categories are organised into five major sub-groups, which are: water and climate related disasters, geological related disasters, chemical, industrial and nuclear related disasters and biological related disasters, which includes biological disasters and epidemics.
What is the State Disaster Response Fund?
Constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 by respective states and it is the primary fund available with state governments for responses to notified disasters.
Composition: The Central government contributes 75 per cent towards the SDRF allocation for general category states and UTs, and over 90 per cent for special category states/UTs, which includes northeastern states, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand).
For SDRF, the Centre releases funds in two equal installments as per the recommendation of the Finance Commission.
Support from the National Disaster Response Fund: it supplements the SDRF of a state, in case of a disaster of severe nature, provided adequate funds are not available in the SDRF.
The disasters covered under the SDRF include cyclones, droughts, tsunamis, hailstorms, landslides, avalanches and pest attacks among others.
Deciding authority: The state executive committee headed by the Chief Secretary is authorized to decide on all matters relating to the financing of the relief expenditure from the SDRF.
Features of SDRF:
- SDRF is located in the ‘Public Account’ under ‘Reserve Fund’. (But direct expenditures are not made from Public Account.)
- State Government has to pay interest on a half yearly basis to the funds in SDRF, at the rate applicable to overdrafts.
- The aggregate size of the SDRF for each state, for each year, is as per the recommendations of the Finance Commission.
- The share of GoI to the SDRF is treated as a ‘grant in aid’.
- The financing of relief measures out of SDRF are decided by the State Executive Committee (SEC) constituted under Section 20 of the DM Act. SEC is responsible for the overall administration of the SDRF. However, the administrative expenses of SEC are borne by the State Government from its normal budgetary provisions and not from the SDRF or NDRF.
- The norms regarding the amount to be incurred on each approved item of expenditure (type of disaster) are fixed by the Ministry of Home Affairs with the concurrence of Ministry of Finance. Any excess expenditure has to be borne out of the budget of the state government.
- Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal ministry for overseeing the operation of the SDRF and monitors compliance with prescribed processes.
- Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) audit the SDRF every year.
- What is a Public Account?
- Powers of CAG to audit public accounts of centre vs states.
- Loans vs Grant-in aid.
- NDRF vs SDRF.
- Offices under DM Act.
- Notified disasters vs non- notified.
Discuss the establishment and components of SDRF.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims
COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund:
The United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation have created the solidarity fund to support WHO and partners in a massive effort to help countries prevent, detect, and manage the novel coronavirus – particularly those where the needs are the greatest.
What is Google subsidiary Verily?
Verily is a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet “focused on life sciences and healthcare”.
- Launched in 2015, Verily claims its mission is to “make the world’s health data useful so that people enjoy healthier lives”.
- So it “develops tools and devices to collect, organise and activate health data”, and “creates interventions to prevent and manage disease”.
Why in News?
It is helping the US government develop a website “to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location”.
The site will be part of Verily’s Project Baseline. Project Baseline was launched by Verily in 2017 “with the goal of bridging the gap between research and care”.
Herd immunity is when a large number of people are vaccinated against a disease, lowering the chances of others being infected by it. When a sufficient percentage of a population is vaccinated, it slows the spread of disease. It is also referred to as community immunity or herd protection.
- Herd protection of the unvaccinated occurs when a sufficient proportion of the group is immune.
- The decline of disease incidence is greater than the proportion of individuals immunized because vaccination reduces the spread of an infectious agent by reducing the amount and/or duration of pathogen shedding by vaccines, retarding transmission.
Why in News? The UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser has said a degree of herd immunity will help the UK population as Covid-19 spreads.
Context: US President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency in the country invoking the Stafford Act.
- As per this act, the federal government contributes about 75% to the cost of relief for states.
- The Act authorises the President to provide financial and other assistance to local and state governments, certain private nonprofit organisations, and individuals following declaration as a Stafford Act Emergency (limited) or Major Disaster (more severe).
What is excise duty?
Excise duty refers to the taxes levied on the manufacture of goods within the country, as opposed to custom duty that is levied on goods coming from outside the country.
Not covered under GST: In July 2017 the Centre introduced GST that subsumed a number of indirect taxes including excise duty. This means excise duty, technically, does not exist in India except on a few items such as liquor and petroleum.
- For the items and services outside the purview of GST, excise duty is a form of indirect tax which is generally collected by a retailer or an intermediary from its consumers and then paid to the government.
- The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBEC) is responsible for collecting excise duty.
- The rates of Central Excise Duty are defined by the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985.
Why in News?
The government has raised excise duty on petrol and diesel by ₹3 each to boost revenue collections taking advantage of the declining global crude oil price.
Who will represent Delhi Police?
The Central government has decided that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi may, at his own discretion, appoint law officers to represent the Delhi Police and the NCR government before constitutional courts. The order was passed by the Union Home Ministry.
Who are they? Boko Haram is a violent Islamist insurgent group that has spread from northeast Nigeria to neighbouring West African nations of Niger, Chad and Cameroon in the Lake Chad Basin.
Emergence: In the 2000s, Boko Haram emerged in Nigeria as a small Sunni Islamic sect advocating a strict interpretation and implementation of Islamic law. The group, officially called Jama’a Ahl as-Sunna Li-da’wa wa-al Jihad, is more commonly known as Boko Haram, a nickname given by the country’s local Hausa-speaking population, because of the group’s call for rejection of Western education and culture that it viewed as un-Islamic—haram or forbidden—guided by Salafism, a conservative interpretation of Islam.
Emergency covid-19 fund for Saarc nations:
Context: PM Modi proposes emergency covid-19 fund for Saarc nations.
- It will be an emergency fund based on voluntary contributions from all SAARC members.
- India has already pledged $10 million towards this fund.
What is SAARC?
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.
- The member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
- It has a permanent secretariat in Kathmandu, Nepal.
- The organization was started to promote economic and cultural ties amongst its member states.
What is community transmission?
It is one of the levels of transmission defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). Simply put, community transmission means that a virus is circulating in the community and can affect people with no history of travel to affected areas or of contact with an infected person.
Why in News?
India’s current emphasis on social distancing and discouragement of public gatherings is aimed at checking community transmission.
Categorisation of industries:
Industries are categorised based on their pollution load by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
Criteria: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has developed the criteria of categorization of industrial sectors based on the Pollution Index which is a function of the emissions (air pollutants), effluents (water pollutants), hazardous wastes generated and consumption of resources.
- Red category:Includes Cement industry, Petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, sugar, paper and pulp, nuclear power plants, organic chemicals, fertilizers, fire crackers.
- Orange category:Includes coal washeries, glass manufacturing, paints, stone crushers, and aluminium and copper extraction from scrap.
- Green category:Includes aluminium utensils, steel furniture, soap manufacturing and tea processing.
- White category: Includes the industries that are “practically non-polluting”. These industries, like air cooler or air conditioning units, chalk factories, biscuit tray units, won’t need a green clearance enabling easier financing.
Industries scoring 60 and above on a scale of 1 to 100 have been rated red. An index between 41 and 59 earns an orange category, while a score between 21 and 40 gets a green. Pollution index lower than 20 have been rated white.
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD):
LOCATION: Benishangul-Gumuz region, Ethiopia.
Formerly known as the Millennium Dam, is under construction in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, on the Blue Nile River, which is located about 40km east of Sudan.
Why in News?
As the July deadline draws closer for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the river Nile to become functional, the dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt, with Sudan caught in between, has escalated into a diplomatic stand-off. Differences were laid bare recently when Ethiopia skipped the latest round of tripartite negotiations with Egypt and Sudan in Washington, being mediated by the U.S. and the World Bank.
Country’s first women-only medical college to offer free medical education:
Context: Symbiosis to set up country’s first women-only medical college to offer free medical education.
- It will be called the Symbiosis Medical College for Women (SMCW).
- It will be the first medical college in the country to offer free medical education.
- The college will be located at the campus of the Symbiosis International University at Lavale, Pune.
University for Peace (UPEACE):
- It is an intergovernmental organization with university status.
- Established by treaty at the United Nations General Assembly in 1980 and having its main campus in Costa Rica.
- The University has the unique status of not only being a dedicated institution for higher education in Peace and Conflict studies, but also an international treaty body organization mandated by the United Nations General Assembly.
PIB one liner facts
- Under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the States may take, or require or empower any person to take some measures and by public notice prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public for infectious disease management.
- Under the Disaster Management Act, the States/UTs can draw funds from the State Disaster Response Fund, in addition to the funds from the state government and the NHM.