Print Friendly, PDF & Email

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 20 April 2020

Table of Contents:

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

GS Paper 1:

1. National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Government amends the extant FDI policy.

2. Types of human coronaviruses.

3. Islamophobia and IOC.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Draft Electricity Act.

2. TriboE masks and triboelectricity.

3. Lithium rich red giants.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. What is remdesivir?

2. What are Blazars?

3. Goa is now COVID free.

4. Bangalore Blue variety of grape.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India

What to study?

For Prelims: About UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Indian entries in the list, about Reggae, overview of the National ICH List.

For Mains: Significance of the list and the need for conservation.

ContextMinistry of Culture has launched the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India.

  • The National ICH List is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage.
  • This initiative is also a part of the Vision 2024 of the Ministry of Culture.

Elements in the list:

As of now the list has more than 100 elements. It also includes the 13 elements of India that have already been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Overview of the National ICH List:

Following UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, this list has been classified into five broad domains in which intangible cultural heritage is manifested:

  1. Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;
  2. Performing arts;
  3. Social practices, rituals and festive events;
  4. Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
  5. Traditional craftsmanship.

About UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage:

The list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance. The list was established in 2008 when Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect. UNESCO maintains three lists under its “Intangible Cultural Heritage” banner: the list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding, the list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity and the register of good safeguarding practices. Some of the criteria for inclusion in the representative list are if the inscription of the element will ensure visibility and awareness of it and if the element has been nominated after having “the widest possible participation” of the community, group or individuals concerned and with their free, prior and informed consent.

From India the Intangible Cultural Heritages added into this list include:

  1. Tradition of Vedic chanting
  2. Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana
  3. Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre
  4. Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas.
  5. Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala
  6. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan
  7. Chhau dance
  8. Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir.
  9. Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur
  10. Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab
  11. Yoga
  12. Nawrouz
  13. Kumbh Mela

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Which are the elements of India that have already been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity?
  2. What is UNESCO?
  3. Difference between tangible and intangible heritages?
  4. Eligibility criteria?
  5. Lists under UNESCO “Intangible Cultural Heritage” banner?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Government amends the extant FDI policy

What to study?

For Prelims: Key changes introduced and implications.

For Mains: Significance and the need for these measures.

Context: The Government has amended certain sections of the FDI policy for curbing opportunistic takeovers/acquisitions of Indian companies due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

While India shares a land border with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Afghanistan, the move appears directed mostly at China.

The changes introduced:

  1. All FDI proposals from countries sharing border with India will be under the government approval route.
  2. The so-called automatic route, under which the central bank simply had to be informed after money was invested, has been blocked in such cases.
  3. Companies whose beneficial ownership also lies in such countries will have to undergo government scrutiny for any change in foreign holding.

Need for these measures:

  • Many Indian businesses have come to a halt due to the lockdown imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently their valuations have plummeted.
  • Many such domestic firms may be vulnerable to opportunistic takeovers or acquisitions from foreign players.
  • Recently, People’s Bank of China made a portfolio investment through the stock market into the housing finance company HDFC and now holds a 1.01% stake in the company.

How was the FDI policy for neighbours so far?

  1. A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI Policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited.
  2. However, a citizen of Bangladesh or an entity incorporated in Bangladesh can invest only under the Government route.
  3. Further, a citizen of Pakistan or an entity incorporated in Pakistan can invest, only under the Government route, in sectors/activities other than defence, space, atomic energy and sectors/activities prohibited for foreign investment.

Concerns and unintended impacts:

  1. The amended policy makes every type of investment by Chinese investors subject to government approval. Such a blanket application could create unintended problems.
  2. It does not distinguish between Greenfield and Brownfield investments. It may pose obstacles to Greenfield investments where Chinese investors bring fresh capital to establish new factories and generate employment in India.
  3. The new policy does not distinguish between the different types of investors, such as industry players, financial institutions, or venture capital funds. The restrictions on Venture capital funds may impact the prospects of many start-ups in the Indian market.

Chinese investment In India:

  • China’s footprint in the Indian business space has been expanding rapidly, especially since 2014.
  • The Chinese investment in India in 2014 stood at $1.6 billion. This involved mostly investment from Chinese state-owned players in the infrastructure space in India.
  • By 2017, the total investment had increased five-fold to at least $8 billion accompanied by a marked shift from a state-driven to market-driven approach.
  • Total current and planned Chinese investment in India has crossed $26 billion in March 2020.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Types of human coronaviruses

What to study?

For Prelims: Coronaviruses- types, virus types which affect humans, symptoms and recent examples.

For Mains: Impact of certain viruses and the need for better preparedness.

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of single-stranded RNA viruses that cause diseases in animals and humans.

  • Broadly, coronaviruses (CoV) are the largest group of viruses that belong to the Nidovirales order, which includes Coronaviridae among three others.
  • Coronavirinae are one of the two subfamilies of Coronaviridea, with the other being Torovirinae.
  • Coronavirinae can be further subdivided into alpha, beta, gamma and delta coronaviruses.

These viruses are named so because of spikes found on their surface that give them the appearance of a crown when looked through an electron microscope.

The first coronavirus was isolated in 1937 and it was the infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) that caused respiratory disease in chickens.

Coronaviruses which affect humans:

While there are hundreds of coronaviruses that cause diseases in animals such as pigs, camels, bats and cats, till date seven different types of coronaviruses have been identified that infect humans.

In the last two decades, more aggressive coronaviruses have emerged that are capable of causing serious illness and even death in humans. These include SARS-CoV, MERS and now SARS-CoV-2.

In 1965, scientists DJ Tyrrell and ML Bynoe were the first ones to identify a human coronavirus, which they isolated from the nasal washing of a male child who had symptoms of common cold. They termed the strain B814 and later in 1968 the term “coronavirus” was accepted.

Seven types that infect humans: Includes Two alpha coronaviruses (229E and NL63) and four beta coronaviruses (OC43, HKU1, MERS and SARS-CoV).

The sources:

Coronaviruses from all four categories can be found in mammals. But, bat coronaviruses are the likely gene source of alpha and beta coronaviruses, while avian coronaviruses are the probable gene sources of gamma and delta coronaviruses.

When the human coronaviruses were first identified?

229E: Discovered in 1967.

NL63 and HKU1: First identified in the Netherlands in 2004.

SARS-CoV: 2003 in China.

MERS: 2012 in Saudi Arabia (transmitted by dromedary camels).

SARS-CoV-2: 2019 in Wuhan (source not yet known, possibly bats).

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Can Coronavirus infect animals?
  2. How are they classified?
  3. Types of Corona affecting humans?
  4. Why are they named so?
  5. Their discovery?

Mains Link:

In the last two decades, more aggressive coronaviruses have emerged that are capable of causing serious illness and even death in humans. Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Islamophobia and IOC

What to study?

For Prelims: All about IOC.

For Mains: Islamophobia- causes, concerns and need for immediate measures.

Context: Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has criticised India for what it called “growing Islamophobia”.

IOC said, Muslim minorities are being “negatively profiled,” facing “discrimination and violence” amidst the COVID-19 crisis in India.

What has the IOC said?

It has urged the Indian Govt to take urgent steps to stop the growing tide of Islamophobia in India and protect the rights of its persecuted Muslim minority as per its obligations under international Human Rights law.

What’s the issue?

A religious gathering of muslims (Tablighi Jamaat) was held in Delhi in March. The event was linked to many of the Covid-19 positive cases in India. After this most sections of the media, people on social media blamed the Tablighi jamaat and muslims for deliberately spreading the Covid-19 in India.

About the OIC:

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states.

It is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations.

The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony “.

The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.

Permanent Secretariat is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

OIC

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Members of IOC and their geographical locations?
  2. Is India a member of IOC?
  3. IOC objectives?
  4. Other Islamic groups of international importance?

Mains Link:

Are Muslim minorities being “negatively profiled” amidst the COVID-19 crisis in India. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- energy.

Draft Electricity Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key amendments proposed, overview of Electricity Act, 2003.

For Mains: Need for and significance of these amendments.

Context: Power Ministry floats draft Electricity Act; invites suggestions within 21 days. This will amend the 2003 act.

The draft pitches for privatisation of distribution companies, cost-reflective electricity tariff without subsidy, strengthening of payment security mechanism and Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority to bring in investment and ease of doing business in the power sector.

Background:

This is the fourth draft of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill since 2014.

  • The government had brought first draft in 2014 that was introduced in the Lok Sabha seeking separate carriage and contend electricity distribution business.
  • The Bill could have given option to consumers to change their service providers like they do for their mobile phone service. But, unfortunately, that Bill lapsed after dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
  • The second and third drafts were circulated in 2018 and 2019.

Key provisions in the bill:

  1. The draft proposes to privatise discoms by way of sub-licensing and franchisee models. The sub-licensing will allow states to choose a private company for the distribution of electricity supply of a particular area to help it bring down losses of both electricity and finances.
    The bill proposes to restrict deferment of revenue recovery and reduction in cross-subsidy to bring in a cost-reflective tariff, simplified tariff.
  2. It also proposes to bring in an Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority (ECEA) to deal with the issues of non-performance of contracts leading to uncertainty.
  3. For the renewable sector, the draft proposes to bring National Renewable Energy Policy and may bring in a minimum percentage of the purchase for the states from renewable sources.
  4. The bill enables state as well as central power regulators to specify transmission charges under open access. Earlier, both functions were with the central commission.
  5. It also provides additional roles to the National Load Desptach Centre that include scheduling and dispatch of power across the country in accordance with contracts.
  6. It also provides that the cross (power) border trade shall cover import or export of electricity from India and any other country. The transaction related to passage of electricity through India would be treated as transit between two other countries. 
  7. The Bill also provides that the Electricity Act would be applicable to the entire country, including the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

 Composition and powers of Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority:

  • The Authority will be headed by a retired Judge of the High Court.
  • It is proposed to be set-up with powers of the Civil Court.
  • It will enforce performance of contracts related to purchase or sale or transmission of power between a generating, distribution or transmission companies.

Significance of these amendments:

  • The proposed amendments are progressive, transformative and formulated with the objective to remove the regulatory impediments/shortcomings that were being experienced in sectoral functioning.
  • Creation of Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority with power of civil court, including arrest, attachment of property, enforcement of decree etc. will help to instil discipline amongst the contracting parties to adhere to their contractual obligations which was amiss in current environment.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Composition of the proposed Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority.
  2. Key functions of ECEA.
  3. How DISCOMS in the country function?
  4. What is the National Load Desptach Centre?
  5. Composition and functions of the Appellate Tribunal (APTEL).

Mains Link:

Discuss the key features and significance of Draft Electricity Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Indigenization and development of new technology.

TriboE masks and triboelectricity

What to study?

For Prelims: Features, how they work and what is triboelectricity?

For Mains: Need for and significance of such masks.

Context: A team of researchers at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bangalore, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), have come up with a recipe for making face masks, termed as TriboE Mask, that can hold electric charges to restrict the entry of infections but interestingly, without any external power.

How they operate or work?

It relies on electrostatics. When two non-conducting layers are rubbed against each other, the layers develop positive and negative charges instantly and continue to hold the charges for some time. This electric field, quite strong at proximity, is used to deactivate or possibly even kill the germs.

Key features of these masks:

  1. The mask is three-layered –a layer of nylon cloth sandwiched between polypropylene layers, the latter sourced from commonly used non woven grocery bags.
  2. In place of nylon, silk fabric from an old saree or shawl may also be cut and used.
  3. When layers are rubbed against each other, the outer layers develop negative charges, while nylon will hold the positive charges.
  4. This will act as double electric wall protection against the infectious entities crossing.
  5. As the mask is made out of commonly available fabrics, it can be washed just like any other cloth and can be reused.

What is triboelectric effects?

Also known as triboelectric charging, it is a type of contact electrification on which certain materials become electrically charged after they are separated from a different material with which they were in contact.

Rubbing the two materials each with the other increases the contact between their surfaces, and hence the triboelectric effect.

Examples:

A very familiar example could be the rubbing of a plastic pen on a sleeve of almost any typical material like cotton, wool, polyester, or blended fabric used in modern clothing. Such an electrified pen would readily attract and pick up pieces of paper less than a square centimeter when the pen approaches. Also, such a pen will repel a similarly electrified pen.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is triboelectricity?
  2. Examples of triboelectric effect?
  3. What kind of organisation is CeNS?
  4. Difference between bacteria and virus?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of triboelectric effect.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Lithium rich red giants

What to study?

For Prelims: What are red giants and what is Li?

For Mains: Significance of these findings.

Context: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science &Technology, Govt. of India, have discovered hundreds of Li-rich giant stars.

They have also associated such Li enhancement with central He-burning stars, also known as red clump giants, thereby opening up new vistas in the evolution of the red giant stars.

Implications:

This discovery indicates that Li is being produced in the stars and accounts for its abundance in the interstellar medium.

Identifying sources of Li enrichment in our Galaxy has been a great interest to researchers to validate Big Bang Nucleosynthesis as well as a stellar mixing process. 

Background:

Lithium (Li), is one of the three primordial elements, apart from Hydrogen and Helium (He), produced in the big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN).

Li in stars:

Stars are proposed as likely Li source in the Galaxy. In general, stars are considered as Li sinks. This means that the original Li, with which stars are born, only gets depleted over stars’ life-time as Li burns at relatively very low temperatures of about 2.5X106 K – a range which is easily encountered in stars.

What is the big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN)?

The Big Bang Nucleosynthesis theory predicts that roughly 25% the mass of the Universe consists of Helium. It also predicts about 0.01% deuterium, and even smaller quantities of lithium.

It is the production of nuclei other than those of the lightest isotope of hydrogen during the early phases of the Universe. Primordial nucleosynthesis is believed by most cosmologists to have taken place in the interval from roughly 10 seconds to 20 minutes after the Big Bang.

Lithium

Sources: pib.

 


Facts for Prelims


What is remdesivir?

It is a drug with antiviral properties that was manufactured by US-based biotechnology company in 2014, to treat Ebola cases. It was also tried in patients of MERS and SARS, both caused by members of the coronavirus family, but experts said it did now show promising results back then. It is now being studied as a COVID-19 treatment.

What are Blazars?

Blazars are among the brightest objects in the universe thanks to emissions powered by supersized black holes.

  • The most distant of the newly discovered blazars started to emit their light when the universe was just 1.4 billion years old. Previously, the most distant blazars detected by Fermi emitted their light when the universe was about 2.1 billion years old.
  • Blazars are similar to all active galaxies, acquiring energy from matter falling toward a central supermassive black hole. A small part of this infalling material becomes redirected into a pair of particle jets, which blast outward in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light.

blazar

Goa is now COVID free:

Goa has become the first zero COVID-19 State in the country with the last seven positive cases also turning negative.

This makes Goa the first green State in the country with no case of coronavirus being reported since April 3.

Bangalore Blue variety of grape:

  • It is a variety of fox grape grown in districts around Bangalore.
  • It is one of the three major varieties of grape in the state of Karnataka (the other two being Thomson seedless and Anab-E-Shahi Dilkush).
  • It received a geographical indication tag from the Government of India in 2013.

grape

 


Insights Current Affairs Analysis (ICAN) by IAS Topper