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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 18 June 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

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

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Rapid antigen test.

2. What is Vaccine Nationalism?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Housing Finance Companies.

2. NASA’s Gateway Lunar Orbit outpost.

3. World Crocodile Day.

4. India China Galwan Valley standoff.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Pangolin

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Rapid antigen test

The Context:

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended the use of Standard Q COVID-19 Ag antigen detection test in containment zones and healthcare settings in combination with the RT-PCR test.

The is to be used in specified settings, and kits from only one manufacturer have got approval– the South Korean company S D Biosensor.

What are antigens?

Antigens are foreign substances that induce an immune response in the body.

What is the rapid antigen detection test for Covid-19?

It is a test on swabbed nasal samples that detects antigens that are found on or within the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

It is a point-of-care test, performed outside the conventional laboratory setting, and is used to quickly obtain a diagnostic result.

How is rapid antigen detection test different from RT-PCR test?

Like RT-PCR, the rapid antigen detection test too seeks to detect the virus rather than the antibodies produced by the body.

The most significant difference between the two is time.

  • RT-PCR test takes a minimum of 2-5 hours including the time taken for sample transportation.
  • In a rapid antigen detection test, the maximum duration for interpreting a positive or negative test is 30 minutes.

What are the limitations of an antigen test’s results?

  1. These tests are very specific for the virus, but are not as sensitive as molecular PCR tests. This means that positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but there is a higher chance of false negatives, so negative results do not rule out infection.
  2. Negative results from an antigen test may need to be confirmed with a PCR test prior to making treatment decisions or to prevent the possible spread of the virus due to a false negative.
  3. Once the sample is collected in the extraction buffer, it is stable only for one hour. Therefore, the antigen test needs to be conducted at the site of sample collection in the healthcare setting.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Differentiate between- RT- PCR, Rapid antibody and rapid antigen tests.
  2. What are antibodies?
  3. Wha are antigens?
  4. How body’s immune system works?
  5. What are lymphocytes?
  6. Coronavirus that affect humans.

Mains Link:

Write a note on rapid antigen tests.

covidtest

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

What is Vaccine Nationalism?

The Context:

The United States has now twice indicated that it would like to secure priority access to doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Other countries, including India and Russia, have taken similar stances. This prioritisation of domestic markets has become known as vaccine nationalism.

How it works?

Vaccine nationalism occurs when a country manages to secure doses of vaccine for its own citizens or residents before they are made available in other countries.

This is done through pre-purchase agreements between a government and a vaccine manufacturer.

How was it used in the past?

Vaccine nationalism is not new. During the early stages of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, some of the wealthiest countries entered into pre-purchase agreements with several pharmaceutical companies working on H1N1 vaccines.

  • At that time, it was estimated that, in the best-case scenario, the maximum number of vaccine doses that could be produced globally was two billion.
  • The US alone negotiated and obtained the right to buy 600,000 doses. All the countries that negotiated pre-purchase orders were developed economies.

Why its not good? What are the associated concerns?

  • Vaccine nationalism is harmful for equitable access to vaccines.
  • It further disadvantages countries with fewer resources and bargaining power.
  • It deprives populations in the Global South from timely access to vital public health goods.
  • Taken to its extreme, it allocates vaccines to moderately at-risk populations in wealthy countries over populations at higher risk in developing economies.

What needs to be done?

  • International institutions — including the WHO — should coordinate negotiations ahead of the next pandemic to produce a framework for equitable access to vaccines during public health crises.
  • Equity entails both, affordability of vaccines and access opportunities for populations across the world, irrespective of geography and geopolitics.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is vaccine nationalism?
  2. Which drugs are being used in the treatment of COVID 19 disease?
  3. Various tests to detect SARS- COV 2.
  4. What is H1N1?

Mains Link:

What is Vaccine Nationalism? What are the concerns associated? Discuss.

Sources: Down to Earth.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and associated issues.

Housing Finance Companies

Context:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed stringent norms for housing finance companies.

Proposed norms include:

  1. At least 50% of net assets should be in the nature of ‘qualifying assets’ for HFCs, of which at least 75% should be towards individual housing loans.
  2. Such HFCs which do not fulfil the criteria will be treated as NBFC – Investment and Credit Companies (NBFC-ICCs) and will be required to approach the RBI for conversion of their Certificate of Registration from HFC to NBFC-ICC.
  3. The NBFC-ICCs which want to continue as HFCs would have to follow a roadmap to make 75% of their assets individual housing loans.
  4. The target has been set at 60% by March 31, 2022, 70% by March 31, 2023, and 75% by March 31, 2024.
  5. It has also proposed a minimum net-owned fund (NOF) of ₹20 crore as compared to ₹10 crore now. Existing HFCs would have to reach ₹15 crore within a year and ₹20 crore within two years.

What are qualifying assets?

The RBI defined ‘qualifying assets’ as loans to individuals or a group of individuals, including co-operative societies, for construction/purchase of new dwelling units, loans to individuals for renovation of existing dwelling units, lending to builders for construction of residential dwelling units.

Regulatory oversight:

  • A housing finance company is considered a non-banking financial company (NBFC) under the RBI’s regulations.
  • A company is treated as an NBFC if its financial assets are more than 50% of its total assets and income from financial assets is more than 50% of the gross income.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

NASA’s Gateway Lunar Orbit outpost

Context:

NASA recently finalised the contract for the initial crew module of the agency’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost.

The contract, which is worth $187 million has been awarded to Orbital Science Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Space.

What is the contract for?

NASA has issued this contract to design the habitation and logistics (HALO) support for the Gateway, which is a part of NASA’s Artemis program that aims to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.

The HALO refers to the pressurised living quarters where astronauts will spend their time while visiting the Gateway.

These quarters will be about the size of a small apartment and will provide augmented life support in tandem with NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

What is NASA’s Gateway Lunar Orbit outpost?

The Gateway is a small spaceship that will orbit the Moon, meant for astronaut missions to the Moon and later, for expeditions to Mars.

It will act as a temporary office and living quarters for astronauts, distanced at about 250,000 miles from Earth.

The spaceship will have living quarters, laboratories for science and research and docking ports for visiting spacecraft.

Compared to the ISS, the Gateway is much smaller.

How long will it take to build the Gateway?

As of now, NASA has targeted the completion of the Gateway for 2026, while work on the spaceship is already underway.

By 2022, NASA plans to ready the power and propulsion for the spaceship, which will be launched on a partner-provided commercial rocket.

What is Artemis?

Artemis– Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun. It is NASA’s next mission to the Moon.

Objective: To measure what happens when the Sun’s radiation hits our rocky moon, where there is no magnetic field to protect it. Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Artemis?
  2. Significance of Artemis.
  3. What is Orion Spacecraft?
  4. What is Gateway Lunar Orbit outpost?
  5. How is it different from the ISS?
  6. Why is it proposed to be used?
  7. NASA missions to the Moon and Mars.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Gateway Lunar Orbit Outpost.

gateway

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

World Crocodile Day

Observed on June 17th every year.

It is a global awareness campaign to highlight the plight of endangered crocodiles and alligators around the world. 

India is home to three crocodilian species:

  1. The mugger or marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris)
  2. The estuarine or saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
  3. The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

Details:

Mugger:

  • The mugger crocodile, also called the Indian crocodile, or marsh crocodile, is found throughout the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is listed as vulnerable by IUCN.
  • The mugger is mainly a freshwater species, and found in lakes, rivers and marshes.

mugger

Gharial:

  • The Gharial or fish eating crocodile is native to the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is listed as a Critically Endangered by IUCN.
  • Small released populations are present and increasing in the rivers of the National Chambal Sanctuary, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Son River Sanctuary and the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Orissa.

gharial

Saltwater Crocodile:

It is the largest of all living reptiles. It listed as least concern by IUCN. It is found throughout the east coast of India.

saltwater_crocodile

Crocodile conservation programmes in India:

The Gharial and Saltwater crocodile conservation programme was first implemented in Odisha in early 1975 and subsequently the Mugger conservation programme was initiated, since Odisha is having distinction for existence of all the three species of Indian crocodilians. The funds and technical support for the project came from UNDP/ FAO through the Government of India.

‘BAULA’ PROJECT AT DANGAMAL: ‘Baula’ is the Oriya term for Saltwater Crocodile. Dangmal is in Bhitarkanika sanctuary.

MUGGER PROJECT AT RAMATIRTHA: The Ramatirtha center, in Odisha, is meant for Mugger crocodiles.

GHARIAL PROJECT AT TIKARPADA, Odisha.

CAPTIVE BREEDING OF CROCODILES AT NANDANKANAN, Odisha.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Types in India and their conservation status.
  2. Which species are native to India.
  3. Habitats.
  4. Conservation areas and programmes.
  5. Differences between three species.

Sources: Down to Earth.

 

Topics Covered: Border areas and their management.

India China Galwan Valley standoff

Context:

  • Even as India and China are engaged in military-level talks and in controlled engagement, there has been a violent face-off between the army troops of both sides.
  • Recently, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian Army clashed and used stones, knives, and machetes to attack each other and this resulted in fatalities on both sides.

This incident happened at Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh region.

Background:

India and China share a border that is more than 3,440km (2,100 miles) long and have overlapping territorial claims.

From past one month, Indian and Chinese armies have been locked in a tense stand-off at three points along the Line of Actual Control — the Galwan River Valley, Hot Springs area and the Pangong Lake — since early May.

The strategic importance of Galwan River Valley (GRV):

The Galwan river is the highest ridgeline and it allows the Chinese to dominate the Shyok route passes, which is close to the river.

It lies along the western sector of the LAC and close to Aksai Chin, a disputed area claimed by India but controlled by China.

Why tensions are suddenly on rise in this area?

India is trying to construct a feeder road emanating from Darbuk-Shyok Village – Daulat Beg Oldi road (DS-DBO road).

This road runs along the Shyok River and is the most critical line of communications close to LAC.

Hence, Chinese are keen on controlling this area as they fear that the Indian side could end up threatening their position on the Aksai Chin plateau by using the river valley.

galwan_valley

Way ahead for India:

That China is becoming more belligerent across strategic theatres, challenging the status quo, is supported by multiple examples from the South China Sea.

For the Government of India, this is a moment to guard against complacency, fostered by decades of nimble diplomacy that led to equilibrium, however precarious, on the border issue with China.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Locate on map- the disputed areas between India and China, Pakistan and Nepal.
  2. Where is Galwan valley?
  3. Locate shook river.
  4. Tributaries of Indus River and their origins.
  5. Where is Naku La and Nathu La?
  6. What is DS- DBO road?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Pangolin:

Why in News?

China has accorded the pangolin the highest level of protection and removed the scales of the endangered mammal from its list of approved traditional medicines.

Key facts:

Pangolin is only scaly mammal on the planet.

According to CITES, it is also the most illegally traded vertebrate within its class (Mammalia).

Of the eight species of pangolin worldwide, two are found in India. They are Chinese pangolin, mostly found in northeast India and Indian pangolin.

Protection Status:

  1. Chinese pangolin has been listed as “critically endangered”.
  2. Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) has been listed as “endangered”.

It is also a Schedule I category protected animal, under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

Pangolin

Pangolin_1

 


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