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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 11 November 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 1:

1. National Education Day.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade privilege.

2. Armenia, Azerbaijan agree on peace deal.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Things you need to know about mRNA vaccines.

2. Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

3. Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

National Education Day:


Context:

Since 2008, we celebrate National Education Day on November 11, the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to honor his contributions to education in India.

About Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and his key contributions:

  • He served as the first Minister of Education of independent India.
  • An Indian scholar and independence activist, he was one of the senior leaders of the Indian National Congress.
  • He organized a national education system during his tenure as education minister.
  • His focus was on free primary education to all.
  • Azad was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1992 for his contributions towards the field of education.
  • He was also a pioneer for the establishing of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and the foundation of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Role in the Indian National Movement:

  • In 1912, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad started a weekly journal in Urdu called Al-Hilal which played an important role in forging Hindu-Muslim unity after the bad blood created between the two communities in the aftermath of Morley-Minto reforms. The government regarded Al- Hilal as propagator of secessionist views and banned it in 1914.
  • Maulana Abul Kalam Azad supported the Non-Cooperation Movement started by Gandhiji and entered Indian National Congress in 1920.
  • In 1923, he was elected as the president of Indian National Congress. He again became the president of Congress in 1940.

Contribution to strengthening secularism:

  • Secularism for Azad rested on the principle of wahadat-e-din on the one hand and disregarding the intermediaries the priestly class and institutionalization of religion.
  • He captured the true essence of secularism and placed the highest stakes in education and development of the human mind and man’s consciousness about himself.
  • As the education minister Azad desired that religious education be imparted along with secular education as the serious business of religious education cannot be left to the respective religious leadership of the communities as they tend to take supremacist and communal stand.
  • Azad desired that common values of all the religions should be taught to the students so that they do not develop prejudices against each other.

Secularism, according to Azad was not in confining religion to observances of certain rituals within home, but in religion inspiring followers to live righteous path and seeking guidance of almighty in understanding what that right path is. Therefore every human being has to struggle to become a better follower of their respective religions.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Important literary works of Abul Azad.
  2. Role in India’s struggle for independence- Key events.
  3. Role in Khilafat Movement.
  4. His views on secularism.
  5. About the National Education Day.

Mains Link:

Discuss Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s Contribution to strengthening secularism in India.

Sources: PIB.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade privilege:


Context:

India is likely to press Biden Administration for early restoration of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade privilege for India.

When was it withdrawn?

The privilege was withdrawn by outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington DC in June 2019 and India has been prodding the United States to restore it.

What is the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)?

It is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories.

  • GSP was instituted on January 1, 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974.
  • GSP has been given on non-reciprocal basis. Yet the US has linked it with market access and tariff reduction which is against the basic tenets of GSP.

What is the objective of GSP?

  • The objective of GSP was to give development support to poor countries by promoting exports from them into the developed countries.
  • GSP promotes sustainable development in beneficiary countries by helping these countries to increase and diversify their trade with the United States.

Benefits of GSP:

  • Indian exporters benefit indirectly – through the benefit that accrues to the importer by way of reduced tariff or duty free entry of eligible Indian products
  • Reduction or removal of import duty on an Indian product makes it more competitive to the importer – other things (e.g. quality) being equal.
  • This tariff preference helps new exporters to penetrate a market and established exporters to increase their market share and to improve upon the profit margins, in the donor country.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About GSP.
  2. Countries covered under this program.
  3. When was India removed?
  4. Benefits under the program.

Mains Link:

What are the benefits of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade privilege for India? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Armenia, Azerbaijan agree on peace deal:


Context:

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on a deal with Russia to end fierce clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Background:

Three earlier cease-fire agreements, brokered by Russia, the France and the United States, quickly broke down. The latest Russian effort is distinct for sending peacekeeping troops and for the sweeping concessions Armenia accepted to avoid battlefield losses.

What was the conflict all about?

A simmering, decades-long conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh erupted in late September into the worst fighting the area had seen since a vicious ethnic war in the 1990s.

  • Skirmishes have been common for years along the front lines of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan but is home to ethnic Armenians.

Why this conflict flared again recently?

  1. The region is an ethnic tinderbox.
  2. A local fight drew in regional powers.
  3. Warning signs went ignored.

The story of Nagorno-Karabakh:

  • Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, but its population is majority Armenian. As the Soviet Union saw increasing tensions in its constituent republics in the 1980s, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to become part of Armenia – sparking a war which stopped with a ceasefire in 1994.
  • Since then, Nagorno-Karabakh has remained part of Azerbaijan but is controlled by separatist ethnic Armenians backed by the Armenian government. Until recently, negotiations mediated by international powers had failed to deliver a peace agreement.
  • Armenia is majority Christian while Azerbaijan is majority Muslim. Turkey has close ties to Azerbaijan, while Russia is allied with Armenia – although it also has good relations with Azerbaijan.

armenia

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Biotechnology related issues.

Things you need to know about mRNA vaccines:


Context:

The novel m-RNA vaccine candidate of the Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals was approved for funding as early as July by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

  • Being a biological product that requires genetic manipulation, it needs to be cleared by the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM), a DBT body, before it can approach the Drug Controller General of India for human trials.
  • It is now being said that this vaccine may be ready in March.

First of all, how do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by training the body to recognise and respond to the proteins produced by disease-causing organisms, such as a virus or bacteria.

Traditional vaccines are made up of small or inactivated doses of the whole disease-causing organism, or the proteins that it produces, which are introduced into the body to provoke the immune system into mounting a response.

What are mRNA vaccines?

mRNA vaccines trick the body into producing some of the viral proteins itself.

  • They work by using mRNA, or messenger RNA, which is the molecule that essentially puts DNA instructions into action.
  • Inside a cell, mRNA is used as a template to build a protein.

How it works?

  1. To produce an mRNA vaccine, scientists produce a synthetic version of the mRNA that a virus uses to build its infectious proteins.
  2. This mRNA is delivered into the human body, whose cells read it as instructions to build that viral protein, and therefore create some of the virus’s molecules themselves.
  3. These proteins are solitary, so they do not assemble to form a virus.
  4. The immune system then detects these viral proteins and starts to produce a defensive response to them.

Significance of mRNA vaccines:

There are two parts to our immune system: innate (the defences we’re born with) and acquired (which we develop as we come into contact with pathogens).

  • Classical vaccine molecules usually only work with the acquired immune system and the innate immune system is activated by another ingredient, called an adjuvant.
  • Interestingly, mRNA in vaccines could also trigger the innate immune system, providing an extra layer of defence without the need to add adjuvants.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a vaccine?
  2. How do vaccines work?
  3. Working of the immune system.
  4. What is mRNA?
  5. Potential applications of mRNA vaccines.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT):


Context:

Indian astronomers collaborated with Nobel laureate on Thirty Meter Telescope Project.

  • 2020 Physics Nobel Laureate Prof. Andrea Ghez had worked closely with Indian astronomers on the design of back-end instruments.

About TMT:

  • It is an astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope (ELT).
  • It is an international project being funded by scientific organisations of Canada, China, India, Japan and USA.
  • Planned location: Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii in the US state of Hawaii.
  • Purpose: The TMT is designed for near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared observations, featuring adaptive optics to assist in correcting image blur.

Significance:

  • TMT will enable scientists to study fainter objects far away from us in the Universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the Universe.
  • It will give us finer details of not-so-far-away objects like undiscovered planets and other objects in the Solar System and planets around other stars.

TMT

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Pollution and conservation related issues.

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP):


Context:

The air quality of Delhi and Noida continued to be in the ‘severe’ category for the sixth consecutive day.

So, the newly formed Commission on Air Quality Management, as an interim measure, has given the CPCB powers to operationalise measures under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on air pollution.

 What is GRAP?

The GRAP is a set of emergency measures to be implemented to control air pollution depending upon the air quality.

  • Approved by the Supreme Court in 2016.
  • The plan was prepared by Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority.
  • It works only as an emergency measure.
  • When the air quality shifts from poor to very poor, the measures listed have to be followed since the plan is incremental in nature.

 Overview of the plan:

  1. The plan requires action and coordination among 13 different agencies in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan (NCR areas).
  2. At the head of the table is the EPCA, mandated by the Supreme Court.
  3. Before the imposition of any measures, EPCA holds a meeting with representatives from all NCR states, and a call is taken on which actions has to be made applicable in which town.

polution_watch

About the Commission on Air Quality Management:

Set up through the ‘Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020’ in October this year.

  • The Commission will supersede bodies such as the central and state pollution control boards of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan.
  • It will have the powers to issue directions to these state governments on issues pertaining to air pollution.

Composition:

It will be a permanent body and will have over 20 members.

Chairperson: To be chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary or Chief Secretary.

Jurisdiction:

Exclusive jurisdiction over the NCR, including areas in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in matters of air pollution, and will be working along with CPCB and ISRO, apart from the respective state governments.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Is EPCA a statutory body?
  2. When and why was it established?
  3. Powers and functions.
  4. Composition.
  5. What is the Graded Response Action Plan?
  6. Overview of the ‘Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020’.

Sources: the Hindu.


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