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.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
1. Yuddh Pradushan Ke Virudh.
2. National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).
3. Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
4. SMART Missile.
5. Wayanad-Kozhikode tunnel project launched.
6. World Habitat Day.
7. What is an Adjuvant?
8. Daring Cities Conference.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Foodtech major Swiggy has signed an MoU with the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs or MoHUA to bring India’s street food vendors on to its online platform.
- The initiative under PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi or PM SVANidhi Scheme will help these vendors grow their business which was severely hit and are still struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Overview of the scheme:
- 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 2020.
- 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.
- Validity of the scheme.
- Who implements?
- Eligibility under the scheme?
- Rate of interest?
- What is SIDBI?
Discuss the significance of PM SVANIDHI scheme.
Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
FATF is all set to decide on Pakistan’s grey list status in a virtual meeting scheduled later this month.
- It had placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018.
What is it? The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.
- It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas.
- The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
Roles and functions:
- Initially it was established to examine and develop measures to combat money laundering.
- In October 2001, the FATF expanded its mandate to incorporate efforts to combat terrorist financing, in addition to money laundering.
- In April 2012, it added efforts to counter the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The FATF currently comprises 37 member jurisdictions and 2 regional organisations, representing most major financial centres in all parts of the globe. It also has observers and associate members.
To set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
What is blacklist and grey list?
Black List: Countries knowns as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put in the blacklist. These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities. The FATF revises the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.
Grey List: Countries that are considered safe haven for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put in the FATF grey list. This inclusion serves as a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.
Considered in the grey list may face:
- Economic sanctions from IMF, World Bank, ADB.
- Problem in getting loans from IMF, World Bank, ADB and other countries.
- Reduction in international trade.
- International boycott..
- G7 vs G8 vs G20.
- Black vs Grey list.
- Are FATF’s decisions binding on member countries?
- Who heads the FATF?
- Where is its secretariat?
What is the mandate and objectives of Financial Action Task Force? Discuss its importance for India – Pakistan relations.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
The Supreme Court recently asked the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India about the steps taken to implement the K.V. Kamath Committee report on recommendations to bail out sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Various writ petitions have been filed in the court highlighting the plight of borrowers, small and big, who were being charged compound interest, post the pandemic moratorium which expired on August 31.
When was the committee setup?
In August this year, RBI set up a committee headed by K.V. Kamath on restructuring of loans impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The Committee was tasked to recommend parameters for one-time restructuring of corporate loans.
Recommendations made by the Committee:
- Graded approach to restructuring of stressed accounts based on severity of the impact on the borrowers- Banks can classify the accounts into mild, moderate and severe as recommended by the committee.
- Five financial parameters to gauge the health of sectors facing difficulties- total outside liabilities to adjusted tangible networth, total debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (Ebitda), debt service coverage ratio (DSCR), current ratio and average debt service coverage ratio (ADSCR).
- 26 sectors have been identified including auto, aviation, construction, hospitality, power, real estate and tourism.
Applicability of these recommendations:
- The committee was to scrutinise restructuring of loans above ₹1500 crore.
- The resolution under this framework is applicable only to those borrowers who have been impacted on account of Covid.
- Only those borrowers which were classified as standard and with arrears less than 30 days as at March 1, 2020 are eligible under the Framework.
Why these measures were necessary? How serious is the debt problem?
Corporate sector debt worth Rs 15.52 lakh crore has come under stress after Covid-19 hit India, while another Rs 22.20 lakh crore was already under stress before the pandemic.
- This effectively means Rs 37.72 lakh crore (72% of the banking sector debt to industry) remains under stress.
- This is almost 37% of the total non-food bank credit.
- Besides, Companies in sectors such as retail trade, wholesale trade, roads and textiles are facing stress. Sectors that have been under stress pre-Covid include NBFCs, power, steel, real estate and construction.
- What are NBFCs?
- Difference between Payment Banks and commercial banks.
- KV Kamath Committee is related to?
- Key recommendations.
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.
Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles M Rice, and British scientist Michael Houghton have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.
- The trio’s work helped explain a major source of blood-borne hepatitis that couldn’t be explained by the hepatitis A and B viruses.
- Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health.
- Their discovery also allowed the rapid development of antiviral drugs directed at hepatitis C.
What is Hepatitis C?
It is a liver disease.
Caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV): the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis.
Hepatitis C is a major cause of liver cancer.
How is it caused? Spread?
The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus: the most common modes of infection are through exposure to small quantities of blood.
Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95% of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
There is currently no effective vaccine against hepatitis C; however, research in this area is ongoing.
Types of Hepatitis Viruses:
There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E.
- Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water.
- Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids.
About Nobel Prize in Medicine:
Awarded by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
First awarded in 1901.
- The award comes with a gold medal and prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (over USD 1,118,000), courtesy of a bequest left 124 years ago by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
We’ll cover more about Nobel prizes in coming days.
Because, the award in medicine is the first of six prizes being announced. The other prizes are for outstanding work in the fields of physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics.
- What is Hepatitis?
- Difference between Hepatitis A, B and C.
- About Nobel Prizes.
Why is Hepatitis C considered to be a global health concern? Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
A study was conducted on the state of Amazon Forests under Global Fire Emissions Database project run by NASA. The report has been released.
- Fires in the Amazon region in 2019 were unprecedented in their destruction. Thousands of fires had burned more than 7,600 square kilometres by October that year. But, fires in the Amazon in 2020 surpassed those of 2019.
- Despite the surge in fires, international attention has waned in 2020, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As of 2019, an estimated 17 per cent of the Amazon’s forest cover has been clear-cut or burned since the 1970s.
What are the concerns now?
- As the rainforest bleeds biomass through deforestation, it loses its ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere and releases carbon through combustion.
- If the annual fires burning the Amazon are not curtailed, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks will progressively devolve into a carbon faucet, releasing more carbon dioxide than it sequesters.
Forests to semi-arid Savannah:
Many researchers predict that deforestation is propelling the Amazon towards a tipping point, beyond which it will gradually transform into a semi-arid savanna.
- If the deforestation of the rainforest continues past a threshold of 20-25 per cent total deforestation, multiple positive feedback loops will spark the desertification of the Amazon Basin.
Why Amazon is significant?
Amazon rainforest covers approximately eight million square kilometres — an area larger than Australia — and is home to an astounding amount of biodiversity.
- It helps balance the global carbon budget by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and plays a key role in the global water cycle, stabilizing global climate and rainfall.
Spread of Amazon:
- These are large tropical rainforest occupying the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries in northern South America and covering an area of 6,000,000 square km.
- Comprising about 40% of Brazil’s total area, it is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
The basin is shared by eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname), as well as the overseas territory of French Guiana.
- Amazon forests are spread over in how many countries?
- About Savannah forests.
- What are Evergreen Rain Forests.
Why Amazon forests should be protected? Discuss its ecological significance.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
According to a study by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the annual economic value of ecosystem services provided by the Delhi zoo works out to be ₹426 crore.
- The study was commissioned by the Central Zoo Authority.
- These ‘ecosystem services’ constitute heads such as biodiversity conservation, employment generation, education and research, carbon sequestration and recreational and cultural contributions.
- When one-time ecosystem services are considered, such as carbon storage, the surrogate value of land and land value of Delhi zoo, their contribution climbs to nearly ₹55,209 crore.
Significance of the study:
The ‘first-of-its-kind’ study in India gave a “powerful baseline assessment” of the important ecosystem services provided by the zoo.
These estimates could be used to compute value provided by zoos across India.
What are Ecosystem Services?
They are “the benefits people derive from ecosystems”. Besides provisioning services or goods like food, wood and other raw materials, plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms provide essential regulating services such as pollination of crops, prevention of soil erosion and water purification, and a vast array of cultural services, like recreation and a sense of place.
These services can further be classified into:
- Provisioning services.
- Regulating services.
- Support services.
- Cultural services.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims
Yuddh Pradushan Ke Virudh:
Launched by Delhi Government.
- It is an anti-pollution campaign.
- Seeks to reduce air pollution levels in Delhi during winter.
- The campaign will include release of a Green Delhi app, creation of a war room to monitor progress, processing liquid solution for farms in order to curb stubble burning, and hotspot-specific action plans.
National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA):
Set up as registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 on November 24, 2005 with a mandate for Dope free sports in India.
- The primary objectives are to implement anti-doping rules as per WADA code, regulate dope control programme, to promote education and research and creating awareness about doping and its ill effects.
Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI):
- CEPI is an international non-governmental organisation funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the European Commission, and eight countries (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Japan, Norway, and the UK).
- Launched in 2017, its mission is to stimulate and accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks.
Why in News?
Translational Health Science And Technology Institute (THSTI), an autonomous institute of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), has been chosen by CEPI as one of the global network of laboratories for centralised assessment of COVID-19 vaccines.
India has successfully flight-tested its indigenously developed Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) from a test range off Odisha coast.
- SMART is a missile assisted release of lightweight anti-submarine torpedo system for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations far beyond torpedo range.
Wayanad-Kozhikode tunnel project launched:
- The seven-km-long tunnel will connect Wayanad and Kozhikode districts.
- The ₹900-crore project will be constructed by Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd.
(Home Work: Please look for important Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks and mountain ranges in the area).
World Habitat Day:
- The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter.
- The Day is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.
- World Habitat Day was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/202, and was first celebrated in 1986.
2020 Theme: Housing For All — A Better Urban Future.
What is an Adjuvant?
An adjuvant is a pharmacological or immunological agent that improves the immune response of a vaccine. Adjuvants may be added to a vaccine to boost the immune response to produce more antibodies and longer-lasting immunity, thus minimizing the dose of antigen needed.
Why in News?
Bharat Biotech has entered into a licensing agreement with Kansas-based ViroVax for use of adjuvant Alhydroxiquim-II in its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin.
Daring Cities Conference 2020:
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been invited to speak at ”Daring Cities 2020” virtual conference.
- The conference focuses on the steps taken in the national capital regarding sustainability and climate change issues.
- It is being hosted by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and Bonn city with the support of the German government.
”Daring Cities” is a global forum on climate change for urban leaders tackling climate emergency, especially in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.