Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
1. What Is Antifa?
2. Tiananmen square massacre.
3. SPIC MACAY.
4. CHAMPIONS: Technology Platform to empower MSMEs.
5. Ultra Swachh.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the scheme.
Context: The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched PM Svanidhi, or Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi scheme.
The scheme was announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 14 May to enable street vendors to resume their livelihoods, which have been hit hard due to the national lockdown.
- It is a special micro-credit facility plan to provide affordable loan of up to ₹10,000 to more than 50 lakh street vendors, who had their businesses operational on or before 24 March.
- The the scheme is valid until March 2022.
- Small Industries Development Bank of India is the technical partner for implementation of this scheme.
- It will manage the credit guarantee to the lending institutions through Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises.
Loans under the scheme:
- Under the scheme, vendors can avail working capital loan of up to ₹10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments within one year.
- On timely/early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy of 7% per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) on six-months basis.
- There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan.
The scheme is applicable to vendors, hawkers, thelewalas, rehriwalas, theliphadwalas in different areas/contexts who supply goods and services. Street vendors belonging to the surrounding peri-urban/rural areas are also included.
The lockdown has affected the lives and livelihoods of many especially daily wagers including street vendors whose businesses were affected due to the restrictions.
- Street vendors usually work with a small capital base taken on very high interest rates from informal sources. Further, they might have consumed their savings and high cost capital during the lockdown.
Therefore, there is an urgent need to provide affordable credit for working capital through formal banking channel to street vendors to help them resume the business.
- Validity of the scheme.
- Who implements?
- Eligibility under the scheme?
- Rate of interest?
- What is SIDBI?
Discuss the significance of PM SVANIDHI scheme.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Issues related to health.
What to study?
For Prelims: About Ebola, how it spreads and the regions affected.
For Mains: Health ans economic impacts of the disease, how it can be controlled?
Context: Democratic Republic of Congo has declared a new Ebola epidemic in the western city of Mbandaka.
The announcement comes as a long, difficult and complex Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is in its final phase, while the country also battles COVID-19 and the world’s largest measles outbreak.
This is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 11th outbreak of Ebola since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976. The city of Mbandaka and its surrounding area were the site of Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which took place from May to July 2018.
What you need to know about Ebola?
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
Transmission: The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
Prevention: Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service and social mobilisation.
Treatment: Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
An experimental Ebola vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV proved highly protective against EVD in a major trial in Guinea in 2015.
- The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine is being used in the ongoing 2018-2019 Ebola outbreak in DRC. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should have access to the vaccine under the same conditions as for the general population.
- The public mistrust and militia attacks have prevented health workers from reaching some hard-hit areas for administering the vaccines.
- How is Ebola spread?
- What are zoonotic diseases?
- Differences between virus, bacteria and other pathogens.
- Where is Congo?
- Regions in Africa where Ebola outbreak was observed?
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
What to study?
For Prelims: What is THAAD, how it operates?
For Mains: Significance and concerns for China, global implications.
What is THAAD Defence system?
THAAD is an acronym for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.
It is a transportable, ground-based missile defense system.
This anti-ballistic missile defense system has been designed and manufactured by the US company Lockheed Martin.
How it operates?
THAAD is coupled with space-based and ground-based surveillance stations, which transfer data about the incoming missile and informs the THAAD interceptor missile of the threat type classification. THAAD is alarmed about incoming missiles by space-based satellites with infrared sensors.
Where all it has been deployed?
South Korea, the UAE, Guam, Israel and Romania.
What is this South Korea-China controversy over THAAD about?
- US has a base in South Korea. So, the US operates THAAD missile defense system in this base.
- The US had previously announced that the deployment of this missile defense system was a countermeasure against potential attacks by North Korea, particularly after the country had engaged in testing ballistic missiles.
- This was felt necessary for the US because, in 2017, matters escalated in the Korean Peninsula after North Korea test fired a few missiles in the direction of US bases in Japan.
- These moves by the US and by extension, South Korea, particularly angered China.
China’s concerns are based on the following:
The system has inbuilt advanced radar systems that could track China’s actions.
The US having a presence in the region particularly through its many military bases in Japan and South Korea is particularly worrying for China.
The US exerts influence over South Korea and Japan and may interfere with Beijing’s long-term military, diplomatic and economic interests in the region.
How this controversy has affected South Korea?
The impact of the controversy was not limited to a diplomatic level, but had far-reaching consequences.
- When the controversy first arose in 2017, China had hit South Korea economically. South Korean businesses, including large conglomerates found their diversified operations hampered.
- Post this development in 2017, tourism from China to South Korea fell drastically.
- South Korea’s entertainment industry witnessed concerts, shows and other commercial ventures in China by K-pop stars being forced to cancel as a result of this controversy.
- South Korean cosmetics and beauty products that are extremely popular in China also witnessed their sales being impacted, due to calls on social media to boycott South Korean products.
Following the deployment of replacement missiles now, China has issued a statement urging the US not to harm bilateral relations between Beijing and Seoul.
The US and South Korea have consistently maintained that these missiles are only to counter potential threats by North Korea.
- What is THAAD?
- US military bases worldwide.
- Geographical locations of China and Korean Peninsula.
- Sea and oceans surrounding China.
How THAAD defence system seeks to undermine China’s dominance in the region?
Sources: Indian Express.
Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims: G7- objectives, composition and functions.
For Mains: Criticisms surrounding and measures to revamp.
Context: Calling the existing Group of Seven (G-7) club a “very outdated group of countries”, US President Donald Trump has said that he wanted to include India, Russia, South Korea, and Australia in the group.
What is G7?
The G7, originally G8, was set up in 1975 as an informal forum bringing together the leaders of the world’s leading industrial nations.
The summit gathers leaders from the European Union (EU) and the following countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
How did G7 become G8?
- Russia was formally inducted as a member in the group in 1998, which led G7 to become G8.
- However, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s condemnable act of moving Russian troops into eastern Ukraine and conquering Crimea in 2014 drew heavy criticism from the other G8 nations.
- The other nations of the group decided to suspend Russia from the G8 as a consequence of its actions and the group became G7 again in 2014.
How the G-7 summit works?
The G-7 nations meet at annual summits that are presided over by leaders of member countries on a rotational basis.
The summit is an informal gathering that lasts two days, in which leaders of member countries discuss a wide range of global issues.
The groundwork for the summit, including matters to be discussed and follow-up meetings, is done by the “sherpas”, who are generally personal representatives or members of diplomatic staff such as ambassadors.
G7 is capable of setting the global agenda because decisions taken by these major economic powers have a real impact. Thus, decisions taken at the G7 are not legally binding, but exert strong political influence.
What criticisms have been made of the G7?
- G7 gatherings tend to attract thousands of protesters. Many protesters claim the G7 – which has no representative from any African, Russian or Middle Eastern nation – is completely outdated.
- Protest groups also use the worldwide platform as a stage to lobby and campaign on issues that are important to them.
- G7 leaders are creating a wide gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ both in their countries as well as across the globe, according to a new report published by non-profit Oxfam International. As a result, they are making the fight against alleviating poverty more difficult, claimed the report.
How can it be made more effective?
- Work towards implementing tax models for the rich individuals and corporations to pay their fair share of tax.
- Consider how new and existing wealth taxes could be used as a tool to fight poverty and inequality.
- Invest in healthcare and education and provide aid to developing countries.
- Work towards limiting greenhouse gas emissions down to zero well before mid-century.
- G7 vs G8 vs G20.
- Geographical location of member countries.
Discuss the relevance of G7 countries today. What are the reforms necessary to make the grouping more effective?
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: What is Moody’s ratings? Implications of negative outlook?
For Mains: Concerns and ways to address them.
Context: Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has downgraded the Government of India’s foreign-currency and local-currency long-term issuer ratings to “Baa3” from “Baa2”. It stated that the outlook remained “negative”.
The latest downgrade reduces India to the lowest investment grade of ratings and brings Moody’s ratings for the country in line with the other two main rating agencies in the world — Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch.
A rating downgrade means that bonds issued by the Indian governments are now “riskier” than before, because weaker economic growth and worsening fiscal health undermine a government’s ability to pay back.
When India’s sovereign rating is downgraded, it becomes costlier for the Indian government as well as all Indian companies to raise funds because now the world sees such debt as a riskier proposition.
There are four main reasons why Moody’s has taken the decision:
- Weak implementation of economic reforms since 2017.
- Relatively low economic growth over a sustained period.
- A significant deterioration in the fiscal position of governments (central and state).
- And the rising stress in India’s financial sector.
What does “negative” outlook mean?
“The negative outlook reflects dominant, mutually-reinforcing, downside risks from deeper stresses in the economy and financial system that could lead to a more severe and prolonged erosion in fiscal strength than Moody’s currently projects”.
In particular, Moody’s has highlighted persistent structural challenges to fast economic growth such as “weak infrastructure, rigidities in labor, land and product markets, and rising financial sector risks”.
In other words, a “negative” implies India could be rated down further.
What is Moody’s outlook on economic growth, jobs and per capita income?
Moody’s expects India’s real GDP to contract by 4.0% in the current financial year. Thereafter it expects a sharp recovery in 2021-22. But over the longer term, it states “growth rates are likely to be materially lower than in the past”.
Key observations made by Moody’s:
More than two years ago, in November 2017, Moody’s had upgraded India’s rating to “Baa2” with a “stable” outlook. At that time, it expected that “effective implementation of key reforms would strengthen the sovereign’s credit profile” through a gradual but persistent improvement in economic, institutional and fiscal strength.
But those hopes were belied. Since that upgrade in 2017, implementation of reforms has been “relatively weak and has not resulted in material credit improvements, indicating limited policy effectiveness,” according to Moody’s.
The low effectiveness of policy and the resulting loss of growth momentum is evidenced in:
- The sharp deceleration in India’s GDP growth rates- provisional estimates for 2019-20 were pegged at 4.2% — the lowest annual growth in a decade.
- Worsening government (both Centre and state-level) finances.
- Each year, the central government has failed to meet its fiscal deficit (essentially the total borrowings from the market) target. This has led to a steady accretion of total government debt.
- Comparison of credit rating scales by various agencies.
- What is GDP?
- What is a negative outlook?
What Moody’s downgrade means for India? How it should tackle the situation?
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Investment models.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: SSE- meaning, features and significance.
Context: A working group constituted by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on social stock exchanges has submitted its recommendations.
Terms of reference of the panel:
The panel was set up by Sebi in September 2019 under the Chairmanship of Ishaat Hussain, Director at SBI Foundation and former Finance Director at Tata Sons, to suggest possible structures and regulations for creating SSE to facilitate listing and fund-raising by social enterprises as well as voluntary organisations.
The idea of a social stock exchange (SSE) for listing of social enterprise and voluntary organisations was mooted by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Union Budget 2019-20.
- Allow direct listing of non-profit organisations through the issuance of bonds and a range of funding mechanisms.
- Funding mechanisms suggested include some of the existing mechanisms such as Social Venture Funds (SVFs) under the Alternative Investment Funds.
- A new minimum reporting standard has also been proposed for organisations which would raise funds under social stock exchanges (SSE).
- Profit social enterprises can also list on SSE with enhanced reporting requirement. To encourage, giving culture some tax incentives have also been suggested.
What is social stock exchange (SSE)?
It a novel concept in India and such a bourse is meant to serve private and non-profit sector providers by channelling greater capital to them.
As per the proposal, SSE can be housed within the existing stock exchange such as the BSE and/or National Stock Exchange (NSE).
This will help the SSE leverage the existing infrastructure and client relationships of the exchanges to onboard investors, donors, and social enterprises (for-profit and non-profit).
With this, Social welfare enterprises and non-profits could soon get to raise so-called social capital on a transparent electronic platform, aiding the process of rebuilding livelihoods ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
These recommendations, if implemented as a package, can result in a vibrant and supportive ecosystem, enabling the non-profit sector to realise its full potential for creating social impact.
Need for social capital:
India will need a significant amount of patient capital to repair and rebuild those livelihoods, which are the bedrock of her economy. Conventional capital that prioritises financial returns will not be able to carry such a burden all by itself.
Social capital, on the other hand, is more suited for this role. It is not only patient but its goal is precisely to support and fortify social structures that are in danger of collapsing because of COVID-19.
What is a social enterprise?
A social enterprise is a revenue-generating business. Its primary objective is to achieve a social objective, for example, providing healthcare or clean energy.
This in no way means that a social enterprise can’t be highly profitable. In fact, most social enterprises look and operate like traditional businesses. The only catch is that the profit these entities generate is not necessarily used for payouts to stakeholders, but reinvested into their social programmes.
UK: The Social Stock Exchange in London functions more as a directory connecting social enterprises and potential investors.
Kenya: The Kenya Social Investment Exchange, connects vetted social enterprises with impact investors, both foreign and domestic.
Canada: Backed by the Ontario government, the SVX is an online platform that allows investments in Canadian companies and funds that have “a positive social or environmental impact”.
Singapore: The Impact Investment Exchange runs a social stock exchange in partnership with the Stock Exchange of Mauritius, which is open to limited accredited investors who want to invest.
- What is a social enterprise?
- What is SSE?
- What is social capital?
- SEBI- key functions.
India will need a significant amount of social capital to repair and rebuild those livelihoods, which are the bedrock of her economy. Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: RT- PCR tests- procedure, significance and challenges, comparison with other relevant tests.
Context: Bombay High Court has said all frontline workers, including those who are asymptomatic, in hospitals and containment zones in Vidarbha shall be entitled to be tested for COVID-19 using RT-PCR (Rapid Antibody and Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) method.
It was announced based on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking these tests on medical staff, police personnel and others working with COVID-19 patients.
Frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, police personnel, and sanitation workers are performing a “herculean” task by putting their lives at risk to protect the lives of others. They are the warriors and soldiers in this process. Therefore, these workers are covered under the definition of suspected cases and hence, should be tested.
How RT-PCR is used for detecting Covid-19?
The causative agent for Covid19 is the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is an RNA virus, that means it infiltrates a healthy cell to multiply and survive.
Thus, the RT-PCR test is for the identification of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. In this, the RNA is converted to DNA through a process called ‘reverse transcription’ for detecting viruses.
How it is carried out?
The SARS-CoV-2 RNA is generally detectable in respiratory specimens during the acute phase of infection.
- For that upper and lower respiratory specimens (such as nasal, nasopharyngeal) are collected.
- This sample is treated with several chemical solutions that remove substances, such as proteins and fats, and extracts only the RNA present in the sample.
- Real-time RT-PCR setup usually goes through 35 cycles, which means that by the end of the process, around 35 billion new copies of the sections of viral DNA are created from each strand of the virus present in the sample.
- As new copies of the viral DNA sections are built, the marker labels attach to the DNA strands and then release a fluorescent dye, which is measured by the machine’s computer and presented in real-time on the screen. The computer tracks the amount of fluorescence in the sample after each cycle. When the amount goes over a certain level of fluorescence, this confirms that the virus is present.
- Difference between RNA and DNA.
- Differences between RT PCR and antibody tests.
- What is a RNA virus? How it survives?
- What are antibodies?
Discuss the significance of RT- PCR test.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Cyber security related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims: What is NPCI? How BHIM works?
For Mains: Concerns over data breach, measures in place and how to address the challenges ahead?
A recent report by security researchers alleged leak of personal data of millions of users of the BHIM payment application due to a website breach.
As per the report, 409-gigabyte of data, comprising 7.26 million records, were leaked, and the trove included personal identifiable information such as Aadhaar details, residence proof, bank records and complete profiles.
However, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has denied the claim, asking “everyone to not fall prey to such speculation”.
What is BHIM?
Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is a UPI based payment interface.
Developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
Allows real time fund transfer.
Launched in December, 2016.
The BHIM apps has three levels of authentication:
- For one, the app binds with a device’s ID and mobile number.
- Second a user needs to sync whichever bank account (UPI or non-UPI enabled) in order to the conduct transaction.
- Third, when a user sets up the app they are asked to create a pin which is needed to log into the app. The UPI pin, which a user creates with their bank account is needed to go through with the transaction.
NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
It is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating a robust Payment and Settlement Infrastructure in India.
It has been incorporated as a not for profit company.
The Company is focused on bringing innovations in the retail payment systems through the use of technology for achieving greater efficiency in operations and widening the reach of payment systems.
The ten core promoter banks are State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Citibank N. A. and HSBC. In 2016 the shareholding was broad-based to 56 member banks to include more banks representing all sectors.
What does the NPCI offer?
NFS: National Financial Switch (NFS) ATM network with 37 member banks and connecting 50,000 ATMs was taken to NPCI’s authority from the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) on 14 December 2009. After taking over, NFS ATM network has grown many folds.
IMPS: Immediate Payment Service (IMPS).
AePS: Aadhaar-enabled Payment Service (AePS).
CTS: Cheque Truncation System (CTS) facilitates extended cut-off time to accept customer cheques by banks and reduces timelines for clearing.
RuPay: RuPay is a new card payment system launched to satisfy RBI’s vision to offer a domestic, open-loop, and the multilateral system.
NACH: National Automated Clearing House (NACH) is a web-based solution that facilitates interbank, high volume electronic transactions that are repetitive in nature.
APBS: Aadhaar Payment Bridge (APB) System is used by the government and government agencies to make direct benefit transfers with respect to various Central and state-sponsored schemes.
*99#: is a USSD-based mobile banking service of NPCI launched in November 2012.
UPI: Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that makes multiple bank accounts to be accessed from a single mobile application.
Bharat BillPay: is a system conceptualised by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and driven by NPCI.
NETC: National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) is a nation-wide programme designed to meet the electronic tolling requirements in India.
BHIM: Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) was launched to make payments simpler and easier. Instant bank-to-bank payments can be made using a mobile number or virtual payment address (UPI ID).
BharatQR: Basically, a QR code is a series of black squares arranged in a square grid that can be read by a camera.
- Various services provided by NPCI.
- Who controls ATMs in the country?
- What is UPI?
- What is National Automated Clearing House (NACH)?
- What is National Financial Switch?
- Three levels of authentication in BHIM.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims
What Is Antifa?
- Short for “anti-fascists,” antifa is not a single organization but rather an umbrella term for far-left-leaning movements that confront or resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations.
- Anti-fascists of the movement tend to be grouped on the leftward fringes of the US political spectrum, many describing themselves as socialists, anarchists, communists or anti-capitalists.
- The origin is traced as far back as Nazi Germany.
- While the movement has had a presence in several European countries and has come into focus in the United States in recent years, Antifa does not have a formal organisational structure. The movement has been known to have a presence in the US in the 1980s.
- Antifa members typically dress in black and often wear a mask at their demonstrations, and follow far-left ideologies such as anti-capitalism. They take up causes such as LGBTQ and indigenous rights. What makes them stand out is the violence.
Why in News?
As massive protests following the death of George Floyd continued to rock the United States, President Donald Trump has announced that the far-left group Antifa would be designated as a terrorist organisation by his government.
Tiananmen square massacre:
Context: For the first time in 30 years, Hong Kong will not hold a mass vigil commemorating the Tiananmen square massacre.
On June 4, 1989 Chinese troops cracked down on pro-democracy protesters around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. No official death toll has ever been released, but rights groups estimate hundreds, if not thousands were killed. The massacre made headlines around the world but it particularly resonated in Hong Kong, which was then eight years away from being handed over from British to Chinese control.
- Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY) is a voluntary youth movement which promotes intangible aspects of Indian cultural heritage.
- It does this by promoting Indian classical music, classical dance, folk music, yoga, meditation, crafts and other aspects of Indian culture.
- It is a movement with chapters in over 300 towns all over the world.
- It was established by Dr. Kiran Seth in 1977 at IIT Delhi.
Why in News?
PM addresses SPIC MACAY’s International Convention.
CHAMPIONS: Technology Platform to empower MSMEs:
PM launched the technology platform CHAMPIONS which stands for Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength.
Objectives: Grievance Redressal, To help them capture new opportunities and To identify and encourage the sparks.
The platform also aims to identify the sparks, i.e., the bright MSMEs who can withstand at present and become national and international champions.
It is a disinfection unit to disinfect a wide range of materials, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), electronics items, fabrics, etc.
Developed by DRDO.
The system uses an advanced oxidative process comprising of multiple barrier disruption approach using Ozonated Space Technology for disinfection.
Articles to be covered tomorrow:
- Cyclone Nisarga.
- SC to hear petition on nation’s name.
Insights Current Affairs Analysis (I–CAN) by IAS Topper