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11 May, 2020

49 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-I Red Sanders Human Geography
GS-II MISSION SAGAR Bilateral Relations
GS-III Stringency Index
3D bioprinted cartilage
Wi-Fi Calling
NDMA ISSUES guidelines for restarting industries post lockdown Economic Issues
RBI gold reserves up 40.4 tonnes in 2019-20 Economic Issues
Covid’s vitamin D link
PT Pointer DRUVS and NOTESCLEAN - COVID-19
COVID KAVACH ELISA
MICRODOT TECHNOLOGY
Magnetic field in Uranus
COMMIT Governance
Deep Ocean Mission Human Geography
The Reang of Tripura
GS-I : Human Geography
Red Sanders

Red Sanders

  • Red sanders or red sandalwood, is a species endemic to the southern Eastern Ghats mountain range of South India.
  • It is a rare kind of sandalwood that is in high demand in international market and costs around Rs.1,500 to Rs.2,000 a kg.
  • The major markets for the wood are China, Japan, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • This tree is valued for the rich red color of its wood. The wood is not aromatic. The tree is not to be confused with the aromatic Santalum sandalwood trees that grow natively in South India.
  • Pterocarpus santalinus is listed as an Endangered species by the IUCN, because of overexploitation for its timber in South India.
  • It is also listed in the appendix II of the CITES, which means that a certificate is required in order to export it, that should only be granted if the trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species.
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GS-II : Bilateral Relations
MISSION SAGAR

MISSION SAGAR

As part of the Government of India outreach amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Indian Naval Ship Kesari has departed for Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros, to provide Food Items, COVID related Medicines including HCQ Tablets and Special Ayurvedic Medicines with Medical Assistance Teams embarked, on 10 May 20.

This deployment as ‘Mission Sagar’, is in line with India’s role as the first responder in the region and builds on the excellent relations existing between these countries to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant difficulties.

The deployment is in consonance with the Prime Ministers vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region ‘SAGAR’ and highlights the importance accorded by India to relations with her neighbouring countries and further strengthens the existing bond.

As part of Mission Sagar, Indian Naval Ship Kesari would enter the Port of Male in Republic of Maldives, to provide them 600 tons of food provisions.

India and Maldives are close maritime neighbours with strong and extremely cordial defence and diplomatic relations.

Learn more about the SAGAR initiative and IORA @( https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news/gs-paper-2/SAGAR-programme-Indian-Ocean-Rim-association-IORA )

 

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GS-III :
Stringency Index

Stringency Index

Part of: GS-III- S&T (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Stringency Index created by Oxford University shows how strict a country’s measures were, and at what stage of the pandemic spread it enforced these. As per the index, India imposed its strictest measures much earlier than others.

What is Stringency index?

The Stringency Index is a number from 0 to 100 that reflects these indicators. A higher index score indicates a higher level of stringency.

  1. It is among the metrics being used by the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker.
  2. The Tracker involves a team of 100 Oxford community members who have continuously updated a database of 17 indicators of government response.
  3. These indicators examine containment policies such as school and workplace closings, public events, public transport, stay-at-home policies.

What it says about India?

  1. India enforced one of the strongest lockdowns at an early phase of case growth. India indeed had one of the strongest lockdown measures in the world — at a 100 score since March 22.
  2. It was relaxed slightly on April 20 after the government eased norms for certain workplaces in regions outside the red zones.
  3. When compared to other countries with similar or higher case load, India called its strict lockdown at a much earlier point on its case and death curves.
  4. These 18 other countries had more than 500 cases when they called their strictest lockdown, while India had 320.
  5. Again, India had only four deaths on March 22, when its score reached 100, while most countries had more deaths at that point (except Switzerland; no deaths).

Relation between death curve and stringency score:

Oxford provides an overlay of countries’ death curve and their stringency score. Some countries saw their deaths just begin to flatten as they reached their highest stringency, such as Italy, Spain, or France.

In countries such as the UK, the US, and India, the Oxford graphs find that the death curve has not flattened after strictest measures were enforced.

From the highest death count at their strongest measures, the countries compared were France, Italy, Iran, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, Canada, Belgium, Ireland, US, Turkey, Israel, China, India, and Switzerland.

Other countries with 100 score:

Other countries with a 100 score are Honduras, Argentina, Jordan, Libya, Sri Lanka, Serbia, and Rwanda. India now has the highest number of cases in this set.

What are the six World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations for relaxing physical distancing measures?

Control transmission to a level the healthcare system can manage; the healthcare system can detect and isolate all cases (not just serious ones); manage transfer to and from high-risk transmission zones; and community engagement.

How many countries met these recommendations?

India scored 0.7 (below Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea) because it scored 0 for controlling its cases.

The highest scorers on this index, at 0.9, were Iceland, Hong Kong, Croatia, and Trinidad & Tobago. Oxford found no countries meet the four measured recommendations, but 20 are close.

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GS-III :
3D bioprinted cartilage

3D bioprinted cartilage

  • A team from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has been successful in 3D bioprinting of cartilage using a bioink.
  • The bioink has high concentration of bone-marrow derived cartilage stem cells, silk proteins and a few factors.
  • The chemical composition of the bioink supports cell growth and long-term survival of the cells.
  • The cartilage developed in the lab has remained physically stable for up to six weeks.
  • While the cartilage found in the knee is an articular cartilage that is typically sponge-like and has a huge load-bearing capacity, the ones produced in the lab so far are of a different kind — transient cartilage.
  • Unlike articular cartilage, transient cartilage becomes bone cells and, therefore, brittle within a short time.
  • As a result, the engineered cartilage loses its capacity to bear huge load that is typically encountered in the knee.
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GS-III :
Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling

Part of: GS-III- S&T-Cellular technology (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

What is Wi-Fi Calling?

Wi-Fi Calling is a High Definition (HD) voice service that uses a High Speed Internet connection to let you make and receive calls over a Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi itself operates on a series of standards established by the IEEE and the Wi-Fi Alliance. The simplest way to make a Wi-Fi call is through a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system. It works by reaching a carrier over the internet connection to establish a phone line. 

The benefits of Wi-Fi Calling:

    • It's included at no additional charge with your existing voice plan and HD voice-compatible device.
    • You make and receive calls with Wi-Fi using your phone number.
    • Helps you connect when cellular service isn't available or you're having poor signal issues, like dropped calls.
    • Video Calls no longer need an LTE connection to be initiated in Wi-Fi.

**If you're dropping calls or can't connect due to weak cellular network signal coverage, turn on your device's Wi-Fi Calling feature. Your device then uses a Wi-Fi connection from your home Wi-Fi or a Wi-Fi hotspot you're near so you can make calls as usual. There's no extra charge for Wi-Fi calls.

To be eligible for Wi-Fi Calling, you need to:

  • Have a phone that's HD Voice-enabled and Wi-Fi Calling-capable.
    All currently available smartphones are HD-voice-capable.
  • Have the HD Voice feature on your account and activated
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GS-III : Economic Issues
NDMA ISSUES guidelines for restarting industries post lockdown

NDMA ISSUES guidelines for restarting industries post lockdown

Part of: GS-III- Economy (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

In its guidelines, NDMA said state governments will ensure that off- site diaster management plan of the respective major Accidental Hazard units are up to date and preparedness to implement them is high.

Important points

  • All the responsible officers of the district will ensure that the industrial on- Site Disaster Management Plans are also in place and cover Standard Operating Procedures for the safe restarting of the industries during and after COVID -19 lockdown. 
  • In the guidelines, the NDMA has advised the Manufacturing Industries to consider the first week as trial or test run period while restarting the Unit and ensure all safety protocols and not try to achieve high production targets.
  • It said, to minimise the risk, it is important that employees who work on specific equipments are sensitized.
  • They made aware of the need to identify abnormalities like strange sound or smell, leaks, smoke or other potentially hazardous sign which indicate the need for immediate maintenance or if required shutdown.
  • It has suggested for inspection of all equipment’s as per the safety protocols during the restart phase. 
  • The Authority also said, in case, the industry has any difficulty in managing crucial backward linkages  that may be critical for their safe functioning , they should approach the local District Administration for specific assistance. 
  • For workers, the NDMA in its guidelines has advised for 24 hours sanitisation of the factory premises. For entrance health checks, it said, temperature checks of all employees should be done twice a day and workers showing symptoms should not report to work.
  • Gloves, masks and hand sanitizers should be provided at all factories and manufacturing units. On COVID-19 health and prevention staff education, it said, education on safety steps to take from entry to exit in the factory.
  • It has also suggested for creating physical barriers to ensure the physical distance within the work floor and dining facilities.
  • In case of working in shifts, the NDMA said, factories which work 24 hours at full production capacity should consider one hour gap between shifts except factories and plants requiring continuous operations
    It said managerial and administrative staff should work one shift at 33 per cent capacity as per Home Ministry guidelines.
  • It has further suggested ensuring no sharing of tools or workstations to the extent possible and providing additional sets of tools if needed. 

In case of discovering a COVID-19 positive case, the factories have to prepare  accommodation to isolate workers if needed and HR has to help manage the whole process for individual  and all travelling employees also to undergo a mandatory 14 day quarantine.  The NDMA said workers involved in dealing with hazardous material must be skilled and experienced in the field. No compromise on deployment of such workers should be permitted when an industrial unit is opened up, it added.

 

FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT IN INDIA: https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/Disaster-Management-in-India

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GS-III : Economic Issues
RBI gold reserves up 40.4 tonnes in 2019-20

RBI gold reserves up 40.4 tonnes in 2019-20, more than half of total holdings held overseas

Context

The RBI’s total gold reserves were 612.56 tonnes in the preceding fiscal ended March 2019. With the addition of more stocks, the value of gold reserves rose to $30.57 billion (around Rs 2,32,000 crore) by March 2020 from $23.07 billion in March 2019.

News

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) bought 40.45 tonnes of gold in financial year 2019-20, taking its total holdings of the yellow metal to 653.01 tonnes.

The RBI’s total gold reserves were 612.56 tonnes in the preceding fiscal ended March 2019. With the addition of more stocks, the value of gold reserves rose to $30.57 billion (around Rs 2,32,000 crore) by March 2020 from $23.07 billion in March 2019.

As much as 360.71 tonnes of gold was held overseas in safe custody with the Bank of England and the Bank for International Settlements, while the remaining gold is held domestically, the RBI said in its ‘Report on Management of Foreign Exchange Reserves’.

In value terms (USD), the share of gold in the total foreign exchange reserves rose from about 5.59 per cent as of March 2019 to about 6.40 per cent by March 2020.

Gains or losses on valuation of foreign currency assets and gold due to movements in the exchange rates and/or price of gold are booked under a balance sheet head named the Currency and Gold Revaluation Account (CGRA).

The balances in CGRA provide a buffer against exchange rate/gold price fluctuations.

During the half-year period under review, reserves followed an increasing trend from $445.11 billion as of October 2019 to $481.26 billion by February 2020. Thereafter, reserves decreased to $477.81 billion as of March 2020, the RBI report said.

Out of the reserves, $263.4 billion is invested in securities abroad and $147.5 billion is deposited in other central banks. The RBI has the mandate to invest up to $5 billion in bonds issued by the India Infrastructure Finance Company (UK) Ltd.

As of March 2020, the amount invested in such bonds stood at $1.86 billion.

World Gold Council (WGC)

According to the World Gold Council (WGC), headquartered at London, central banks of UAE (7 tonnes), India (6.8 tonnes), Kazakhstan (2.8 tonnes) and Uzbekistan (2.2 tonnes) increased their official gold reserves in the January-March period.

While central bankers around the globe were focused on the measures needed to contain the economic impact of COVID-19, the need for robust, liquid and diversified international reserves was apparent. And positive net purchases of gold confirm that it remains an important component of those reserves, WGC said.

Turkey added 72.7 tonnes in the March quarter, boosting gold reserves to 485.2 tonnes, 29 per cent of its total reserves. It was by far the largest buyer during the quarter, having also been the leading buyer in 2019, accounting for 50 per cent of the last quarter’s global total.

The Central Bank of Russia — the largest gold buyer since the end of 2005, the start of its 14-year buying streak — announced that it would suspend its gold buying programme from April 1.

 

Balances in CGRA a buffer against price fluctuations

Gains or losses on valuation of foreign currency assets and gold due to movements in the exchange rates and/or price of gold are booked under a balance sheet head named the Currency and Gold Revaluation Account (CGRA). The balances in CGRA provide a buffer against exchange rate/ gold price fluctuations.

 

 

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GS-III :
Covid’s vitamin D link

Covid’s vitamin D link

Context

A new study has found an association between low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of Covid-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries.

The research, led by scientists from UK’s Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, is published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is known to modulate the response of white blood cells, preventing them from releasing too many inflammatory cytokines (part of the body’s immune response to fight infections).

And the SARS-CoV2 virus is known to cause an excess of pro-inflammatory cytokines, called a cytokine storm.

Vitamin D has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections, and older adults, the group most deficient in vitamin D, are also the ones most seriously affected by Covid-19.

Studies

The new study shows that Italy and Spain, both of which have experienced high Covid-19 mortality rates, have lower average vitamin D levels than most northern European countries.

This, the researchers said, is partly because people in southern Europe, particularly the elderly, avoid strong sun, while skin pigmentation also reduces natural vitamin D synthesis.

The highest average levels of vitamin D are found in northern Europe, due to the consumption of cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements, and possibly less sun avoidance.

Scandinavian nations are among the countries with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates per head of population in Europe, ARU said in a statement on the new research.

 

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GS-III :
DRUVS and NOTESCLEAN - COVID-19

DRUVS and NOTESCLEAN

Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS).

Hyderabad based Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) premier lab, Research Centre Imarat (RCI), has developed an automated contactless UVC sanitisation cabinet, called Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS).

It has been designed to sanitise mobile phones, iPads, laptops, currency notes, cheque leafs, challans, passbooks, paper, envelopes, etc.

The DRUVS cabinet is having contactless operation which is very important to contain the spread of virus.

The proximity sensor switches, clubbed with drawer opening and closing mechanism, makes its operation automatic and contactless.

It provides 360 degree exposure of UVC to the objects placed inside the cabinet. Once the sanitisation is done, the system goes in sleep mode hence the operator need not wait or stand near the device.

NOTESCLEAN

The RCI has also developed an automated UVC currency sanitising device, called NOTESCLEAN.

Bundles of currency notes can be sanitised using DRUVS, however disinfection of each currency notes using it will be a time consuming process.

For that purpose, a sanitising technique has been developed, where one has to just place the loose currency notes at the input slot of the device.

It picks the notes one by one and makes them pass through a series of UVC lamps for complete disinfection.

 

 

 

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GS-III :
COVID KAVACH ELISA

COVID KAVACH ELISA

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Virology (NIV) at Pune has developed and validated the indigenous IgG ELISA test “COVID KAVACH ELISA” for antibody detection for COVID-19.

ICMR-National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune is the apex laboratory of the country with state-of-art infrastructure and expertise for research in virology. NIV’s competent scientific team successfully isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus from laboratory confirmed patients in India. This in turn has paved the way for development of indigenous diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2.

While real time RT-PCR is the frontline test for clinical diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2, robust antibody tests are critical for surveillance to understand the proportion of population exposed to infection.

The scientists at ICMR-NIV, Pune have enthusiastically worked to develop and validate the completely indigenous IgG ELISA test for antibody detection for SARS-CoV-2.

The test was validated at two sites in Mumbai and has been found to have high sensitivity and specificity.

Benefits of IgG ELISA test

The test will have the advantage of testing 90 samples together in a single run of 2.5 hours.

ELISA based testing is easily possible even at district level as the ELISA kit has inactivated virus.

There are also minimal bio-safety and bio-security requirements as compared to the real-time RT-PCR test.

The test has an advantage of having much higher sensitivity and specificity as compared to the several rapid test kits which have recently flooded the Indian market.

Make in India initiative

ICMR has partnered with Zydus Cadila for mass scale production of the ELISA test kits. After development at ICMR-NIV, Pune, technology has been transferred for mass scale production to Zydus Cadila, which is an innovation driven global healthcare company.

Zydus has proactively taken up the challenge to expedite the approvals and commercial production of the ELISA test kits so that they can be made available for use at the earliest. The test is named as “COVID KAVACH ELISA”. This is a perfect example of “Make in India” in record time.

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GS-III :
MICRODOT TECHNOLOGY

MICRODOT TECHNOLOGY
Microdot Technology is a process of spraying thousands of microscopic dots onto vehicles or other assets in order to provide a unique identification. Each Microdot carries this unique identification which is registered to the owner, but is not visible to the naked eye. Microdot Technology is used in an attempt to combat car theft and has also been used in the recovery of vehicles which have been stolen.

Here are some facts on Microdot Technology:

  1. Counterfeiting is virtually impossible due the covert security measures in every microdot.
  2. All microdotted assets are logged onto a database and this information is used to track the rightful owner of an asset.
  3. Microdots are virtually impossible to remove which makes them one of the best vehicle security measures.

In India

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued a draft notification to make microdots mandatory in vehicles.

  • The draft rules amend the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 and allow motor vehicles and their parts to be affixed with permanent and nearly invisible microdots that can be read physically with a microscope and identified with ultraviolet light.
  • The microdots would have to comply with the Automotive Industry Standard- 155 (AIS 155) requirements.
    • The Standards are developed by the Automotive Industry Standards Committee (AISC) set up under Central Motor Vehicles Rules - Technical Standing Committee (CMVR-TSC) by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.

The move is aimed at making India free from vehicle thefts and spurious spare parts.

  • The government has envisaged that with microdots becoming a permanent feature in vehicles, identifying them would become easier in case they are stolen.
  • Annually about 2.14 lakh vehicles are stolen across the country with Delhi topping the list at 38,644 in 2016, which translates to over 100 vehicles daily, followed by UP (34,480) and Maharashtra (22,435).
  • The move will ensure that consumers have a way of identifying original parts from fake ones and that contributes to overall safety as well.
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GS-III :
Magnetic field in Uranus

Magnetic field in Uranus

  • Recently scientists have found that Uranus’ magnetic field gets flipped on and off like a light switch everyday as the planet rotates.
  • It is based on the data from NASA’s Voyager 2 Spacecraft.
  • Uranus magnetic field is lopsided and tilted 60 degrees from its axis. Thus it causes magnetic field to tumble asymmetrically to the solar winds.
  • This is quite different from Earth’s magnetosphere, since the alignment of Earth’s magnetosphere is always toward the sun and it is one of the reason for Earth’s auroras.
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GS-II : Governance
COMMIT

COMMIT

  • Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has  launched a new training programme Comprehensive Online Modified Modules on Induction Training (COMMIT) for State Government officials.
  • The objective of this training programme is to improve the public service delivery mechanism and provide citizen centric administration.
  • COMMIT will be launched in 6 States of Assam, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal initially on pilot basis.
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GS-I : Human Geography
Deep Ocean Mission

Deep Ocean Mission

  • Government of India is all set to launch ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ by January 2018 and it will improve India’s position in ocean research field.
  • Achievements in the field of ocean research: The program on Poly metallic nodules was initiated at CSIR-NIO with the collection of the first nodule sample from Arabian Sea on board the first Research Vessel Gaveshani on 26 January 1981.
  • India was the first country in the world to have been given the Pioneer Area for exploration of deep-sea mineral viz. Polymetallic nodules in the Central Indian Ocean Basin in 1987.
  • Based on the resource evaluation, India has now retained an area of 75,000 sq km with an estimated resource of about 100 million tons of strategic metals such Copper, Nickel, Cobalt besides Manganese and Iron.
  • A First Generation Mine-site (FGM) with an area of 18,000 sq km has been identified. Latest technologies for extraction of metals from the minerals have also been developed under the programme.
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GS-I :
The Reang of Tripura

The Reang of Tripura

  • Reang or Riang are one of the 21 scheduled tribes of the Indian state of Tripura. They speak the Reang dialect of Kokborok language which is of Tibeto-Burmese origin and is locally referred to as Kau Bru.
  • Education has been pressing a concern for the tribe. As per the 2001 census, 66.93% of the Reang population is illiterate.
  • Traditionally, jhum (shifting) cultivation has been one of the primary agricultural activities of the Reang tribe.
  • However, with land rights being granted, many members of the community have taken to ploughing or settled cultivation.
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