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Monthly DNA

15 Jan, 2020

24 Min Read

Iran’s violation of nuclear deal

GS-II : International Relations West Asia

Iran’s violation of the nuclear deal

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the move by European countries to restrict Iran and its likely implications; about JCPOA

News: Britain, France and Germany ratcheted up pressure on Iran on Tuesday to cease its violations of a landmark nuclear deal, stressing that they want to resolve differences through talks while starting the clock on a process that could result in a so­called “snapback” of United Nations sanctions.


The 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, seeks to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon — something Iran insists it does not want to do — by putting curbs on its atomic programme in exchange for economic incentives.

About the move and its significance

  • The three countries, which signed the international agreement in 2015 along with the U.S., Russia and China, said in a letter to the European Union’s foreign policy chief that they had no choice but to trigger the deal’s “dispute mechanism,” given Iran’s ongoing transgressions.

  • The three said they rejected Tehran’s argument that Iran was justified in violating the deal because the U.S. broke the agreement by pulling out unilaterally in 2018.

  • The Europeans stressed that they want to “resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialogue” and made no threat of sanctions in their statement.

  • They also specifically distanced themselves from sanctions imposed by the U.S., which Washington has said is part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.

  • The pressure on Iran from Europe does not mean sanctions will automatically be slapped on the Islamic Republic.

Way ahead

Under its dispute resolution mechanism, countries have 30 days to resolve their problem, though that can be extended. If it cannot be solved, the matter could be brought before the UN Security Council and could then result in the snapback of sanctions that had been lifted under the deal

Source: The Hindu

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019


Syllabus subtopic:

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

Prelims and Mains focus: about the report; its findings and significance

News: The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019, was released by NGO Pratham on Tuesday.

How was the survey conducted?

  • ASER surveyors visited almost 37,000 children between 4 and 8 years in 26 rural districts across 24 States.

  • They asked each child to do a variety of tasks, testing cognitive skills as well as simple literacy and numeracy tests.

Key findings of the report

  • Only 16% of children in Class 1 in 26 surveyed rural districts can read text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognize letters. Only 41% of these children could recognise two digit numbers.

  • However, ASER found that the solution is not to spend longer hours teaching children the 3Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic).

  • Counter­intuitively, the report argues that a focus on cognitive skills rather than subject learning in the early years can make a big difference to basic literacy and numeracy abilities.

  • The survey shows that among Class 1 children who could correctly do none or only one of the tasks requiring cognitive skills, about 14% could read words, while 19% could do single digit addition.

  • However, among children who could correctly do all three cognitive tasks, 52% could read words, and 63% could solve the math problem.

  • The report says that “permitting underage children into primary grades puts them at a learning disadvantage which is difficult to overcome.”

  • The ASER surveyors found that a primary classroom could include students from a range of age groups, skewing towards younger children in government schools. More than a quarter of Class 1 students in government schools are only 4 or 5 years old, younger than the recommended age. The ASER data shows that these children struggle more than others in all skills.

  • Global research shows that 90% of brain growth occurs by age 5, meaning that the quality of early childhood education has a crucial impact on the development and schooling of a child.

  • The ASER report shows that a large number of factors determine the quality of education received at this stage, including the child’s home background, especially the mother’s education level; the type of school, and the child’s age in Class 1.

  • Based on a series of tests administered to the children, the report says, “ASER data shows that children’s performance on tasks requiring cognitive skills is strongly related to their ability to do early language and numeracy tasks.”

Why an 'Early Years' ASER?

  • The early years, defined globally as age 0-8, is known to be the most important stage of cognitive, motor, social and emotional development in the human life cycle. A large body of worldwide research demonstrates that exposure to enabling environments and access to appropriate inputs during these years is fundamental to ensuring that children have a firm foundation on which to build, both in school and in life.

  • In India, as in many low and middle income countries, there is little evidence on scale with respect to whether young children have access to pre-primary facilities and whether they are acquiring the foundational skills and abilities that are key to subsequent success in school and beyond. Further, parents, families, community members and others are not always clear about the different kinds of abilities that can help young children cope with the demands both of academic learning and of everyday life. Child development experts know that breadth of skills and experiences is critically important in the early years and that exposing young children to formal academic content too early is often counterproductive; but many other adults responsible for children’s welfare – parents and policy makers alike – do not. Given the rising aspirations for educational success, parents often put their children into school well before they are developmentally “ready”.

  • Most of the available instruments for assessing young children’s abilities are designed to be administered in institutional settings, by trained professionals, in order to inform experts. However, in order to ensure that the needs and abilities of young children move into the centre of current debates on educational policy and practice in India, the evidence needs to speak to and be understood by a much wider set of actors – parents as well as policy makers, practitioners as well as people at large.

Source: The Hindu

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules, 2019


Syllabus subtopic:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Prelims and Mains focus: about the gazette notification and its significance; about Blue flag certification; CRZ rules 2019

News: The Environment Ministry has relaxed Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules that restrict construction near beaches to help States construct infrastructure and enable them to receive ‘Blue Flag’ certification.


  • Last year, the Ministry selected 13 beaches in India to vie for the certificate. This is an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.

  • The earmarked beaches are — Ghoghala beach (Diu), Shivrajpur beach (Gujarat), Bhogave beach (Maharashtra), Padubidri and Kasarkod beaches (Karnataka), Kappad beach (Kerala), Kovalam beach (Tamil Nadu), Eden beach (Puducherry), Rushikonda beach (Andhra Pradesh), Miramar beach (Goa), Golden beach (Odisha), Radhanagar beach (Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and Bangaram beach (Lakshadweep).

About the rules eased by the notification

The Blue Flag certification, requires beaches to create certain infrastructure — portable toilet blocks, grey water treatment plants, a solar power plant, seating facilities, CCTV surveillance and the like. However, India’s CRZ laws don’t allow the construction of such infrastructure on beaches and islands.

The above activities and facilities shall be permitted in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), including Islands, subject to maintaining a minimum distance of 10 meters from HTL (High Tide Line).

Significance of blue flag certification

  • The ‘Blue Flag’ beach is an ‘eco­tourism model’ and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area.

  • The Blue Flag Programme started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.

  • The certification is accorded by the Denmark-based Foundation for Environment Education, with 33 stringent criteria under four major heads for the beaches, that is,

(i) Environmental Education and Information

(ii) Bathing Water Quality

(iii) Environment Management and Conservation and

(iv) Safety and Services.

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules

  • Last year, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the 2019 Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, replacing the CRZ norms of 2011.
  • The new CRZ norms were issued under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 with an aim to promote sustainable development based on scientific principles.

Objectives of CRZ Regulations 2019:

  • To promote sustainable development based on scientific principles taking into account the natural hazards such as increasing sea levels due to global warming.
  • To conserve and protect the environment of coastal stretches and marine areas, besides livelihood security to the fisher communities and other local communities in the coastal area.

Salient Features:

Two separate categories for CRZ-III (Rural) areas:

CRZ-III A: The A category of CRZ-III areas are densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the High Tide Line (HTL) as against 200 meters from the High Tide Line stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011.

CRZ-III B – The B category of CRZ-III rural areas have population density of below 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas have a No Development Zone of 200 meters from the HTL.

Floor Space Index Norms eased: As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, the Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen. As per the latest notification, the government has decided to de-freeze the Floor Space Index and permit FSI for construction projects.

Tourism infrastructure permitted in coastal areas: The new norms permit temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities, etc. in Beaches.

Streamlining of CRZ Clearances: The procedure for CRZ clearances has been streamlined. Now, the only such projects which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) will be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the Ministry. The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the State level.

No Development Zone of 20 meters for all Islands: For islands close to the main land coast and for all Backwater Islands in the main land, No Development Zone of 20 meters has been stipulated in wake of space limitations and unique geography of such regions.

Pollution abatement: To address pollution in Coastal areas, the treatment facilities have been made permissible in CRZ-I B area subject to necessary safeguards.

Critically Vulnerable Coastal Areas (CVCA): Sundarban region of West Bengal and other ecologically sensitive areas identified as under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 such as Gulf of Khambat and Gulf of Kutchh in Gujarat, Achra-Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Karwar and Coondapur in Karnataka, Vembanad in Kerala, Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, Bhaitarkanika in Odisha and Krishna in Andhra Pradesh are treated as Critical Vulnerable Coastal Areas. These Critical Vulnerable Coastal Areas will be managed with the involvement of coastal communities including fisher folk.

Source: The Hindu

China coronavirus


Syllabus subtopic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the virus outbreak and actions taken to address it; about Coronavirus and its impact on humans; about WHO: structure and functions

News: There may have been limited human-to-human transmission of a new coronavirus in China within families, and it is possible there could be a wider outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). A Chinese woman has been quarantined in Thailand with a mystery strain of coronavirus, Thai authorities said on Monday, the first time the virus has been detected outside China.

Actions taken by WHO

  • The WHO is however preparing for the possibility that there could be a wider outbreak.

  • Some types of the virus cause less serious diseases, while others - like the one that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) - are far more severe.

  • The UN agency has given guidance to hospitals worldwide about infection control in case the new virus spreads. There is no specific treatment for the new virus, but anti-virals are being considered and could be "re-purposed”.

About Coronavirus

  • Coronaviruses are species of virus belonging to the subfamily Coronavirinae in the family Coronaviridae, in the order Nidovirales. Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses with a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome and with a nucleocapsid of helical symmetry. The genomic size of coronaviruses ranges from approximately 26 to 32 kilobases, the largest for an RNA virus.

  • The name "coronavirus" is derived from the Latin corona, meaning crown or halo, and refers to the characteristic appearance of virions under electron microscopy (E.M.) with a fringe of large, bulbous surface projections creating an image reminiscent of a royal crown or of the solar corona. This morphology is created by the viral spike (S) peplomers, which are proteins that populate the surface of the virus and determine host tropism

Diseases caused by Coronoavirus

  • Coronaviruses primarily infect the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract of mammals and birds. Seven different currently known strains of coronaviruses infect humans.

  • Coronaviruses are believed to cause a significant percentage of all common colds in human adults and children. Coronaviruses cause colds with major symptoms, e.g. fever, throat congestion and adenoids, in humans primarily in the winter and early spring seasons.

  • Coronaviruses can cause pneumonia, either direct viral pneumonia or a secondary bacterial pneumonia, and bronchitis, either direct viral bronchitis or a secondary bacterial bronchitis.

  • The much publicized human coronavirus discovered in 2003, SARS-CoV which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), has a unique pathogenesis because it causes both upper and lower respiratory tract infections.

  • The significance and economic impact of coronaviruses as causative agents of the common cold are hard to assess because, unlike rhinoviruses (another common cold virus), human coronaviruses are difficult to grow in the laboratory.

  • Coronaviruses also cause a range of diseases in farm animals and domesticated pets, some of which can be serious and are a threat to the farming industry.

Note: to read about the new coronavirus in detail, click on the link below


About World Health Organization

  • established on 7 April 1948
  • headquarters — Geneva, Switzerland
  • specialized agency of the United Nations
  • WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group
  • It is concerned with international public health.

Its Predecessor

  • International Sanitary Conferences — A series of 14 conferences that lasted from 1851 to 1938. The International Sanitary Conferences worked to combat many diseases, chief among them cholera, yellow fever, and the bubonic plague
  • Health Organization — agency of the League of Nations

Reports published by WHO

  • World Health Report, the worldwide World Health Survey
  • Global Urban Air Pollution database

How it functions:

  • World Health Assembly — Geneva
  • legislative and supreme body of WHO
  • appoints the Director-General every five years
  • votes on matters of policy and finance of WHO, including the proposed budget
  • reviews reports of the Executive Board

Executive body: 34 members, technically qualified in the field of health elected by the world health assembly for three-year terms

  • carry out the decisions and policies of the Assembly, to advise it and to facilitate its work

Source: Indian Express

E-commerce market in India

GS-III : Economic Issues Industry

E-commerce market in India

Syllabus subtopic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the e-commerce market in India and allegations on e-commerce retailers; about CCI and its role

News: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) ordered a probe into Amazon and Flipkart for alleged deep discounting and unfair trade practices. The matter, once a toss between pricing and convenience, now has jobs and international relations at its heart.

What are the online retailers accused of?

Amazon and Flipkart are accused of offering deep discounts on products to buyers through select preferred sellers. Not all sellers on the platforms are handed this. As such, these deep discounts deny them the opportunity of higher sales. The online retailers are also accused of tweaking their search algorithms, which results in their preferred sellers appearing on top of the websites and thus having a better chance of being chosen by buyers. It is alleged that other sellers are relegated to sell only through the brick and mortar set- up, preventing them from having the pan-India reach that online marketplaces offer.

How are e-retailers able to dominate?

  • It is alleged that Amazon and Flipkart are able to cross- subsidize due to the huge amount of funding received from their investors. This allows them to price products below cost through their sellers.

  • This, in turn, creates high entry barriers for a new entrant. The online retailers allegedly force sellers, which are not among the preferred ones, to sign skewed agreements that they can terminate as per their will. For products such as mobile phones, they enter into exclusive tie-ups with manufacturers, thereby creating a monopoly and in turn denying the consumer the option of buying from elsewhere.

What is the sales model that’s under scanner?

Amazon and Flipkart are platforms for sellers and manufacturers to sell their wares. Both have multiple vendors supplying any given product. Both also have private label brands sourced from preferred manufacturers and sold through preferred sellers. The law doesn’t allow them to hold their own inventory or sell directly to consumers.

What’s the fear around online retailers?

E-retailers act as intermediaries between buyer and seller, allowing them to gather critical data, including price, quantities sold, demand of each product, seller and geography. They can use the information to launch their private labels in categories where they think it’s profitable for them or use their preferred sellers for this. It enables them to target consumers better with recommendations for products and customized offerings. Another worry is sellers find that transparency is generally missing in online product reviews.

What do e-retailers say in their defence?

CCI’s 38-page “Market Study on E- Commerce in India” says market- place platforms maintain that all sellers listed on their platforms, including those selling private labels, are independent. Thus, it is not incentive-compatible for them to prefer a few at the expense of quality of the platform, given the stiff competition that exists in what is predominantly an offline retail landscape. E-retailers also deny any role in pricing. CCI will take a call on the findings, while ensuring that competition and efficiency are not compromised.

Source: Livemint



Syllabus subtopic: 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.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the discovery and its significance; about Stardust, meteors, meteorite and meteoroids

News: A meteorite that crashed into rural south- eastern Australia in a fire-ball in 1969 contained the oldest material ever found on Earth, stardust that predated the formation of our solar system by billions of years, scientists said on Monday.

About the discovery

  • The oldest of 40 tiny dust grains trapped inside the meteorite fragments retrieved around the town of Murchison in Victoria state dated from about 7 billion years ago, about 2.5 billion years before the sun, Earth and rest of our solar system formed, the researchers said.

  • In fact, all of the dust specks analysed in the research came from before the solar system’s formation—thus known as “presolar grains”—with 60% of them between 4.6 and 4.9 billion years old and the oldest 10% dating to more than 5.6 billion years ago.

  • The stardust represented time capsules dating to before the solar system.

Why is the discovery so significant?

  • Though the universe abounds with floating stardust, no presolar grains have ever been found in Earth's rocks. That's because plate tectonics, volcanism and other planetary processes heated and transformed all the presolar dust that may have collected during Earth's formation.
  • When large, orphan space rocks form — such as the asteroid that produced Murchison — they, too, can pick up ancient, interstellar dust. But unlike dynamic planets, Murchison's parent asteroid is "an almost-inert piece of rock that formed from the solar nebula and hasn't changed since then," so the presolar grains haven't been cooked down into another type of mineral.
  • Most presolar grains measure about 1 micron in length, or are even smaller. But the grains the scientists analyzed for the study were much bigger, ranging from 2 to 30 microns in length.
  • Scientists call them 'boulders; they can be seen with an optical microscope.

About Stardust (Cosmic dust)

  • Cosmic dust, also called extraterrestrial dust or space dust, is dust which exists in outer space, or has fallen on Earth. Most cosmic dust particles are between a few molecules to 0.1 µm (1 micron) in size.

  • Cosmic dust can be further distinguished by its astronomical location: intergalactic dust, interstellar dust, interplanetary dust (such as in the zodiacal cloud) and circumplanetary dust (such as in a planetary ring).

  • In the Solar System, interplanetary dust causes the zodiacal light. Solar System dust includes comet dust, asteroidal dust, dust from the Kuiper belt, and interstellar dust passing through the Solar System.

  • Thousands of tons of cosmic dust are estimated to reach the Earth's surface every year, with each grain having a mass between 10−16 kg (0.1 pg) and 10−4 kg (100 mg). The density of the dust cloud through which the Earth is traveling is approximately 10−6 dust grains/m3.

  • Cosmic dust contains some complex organic compounds (amorphous organic solids with a mixed aromatic–aliphatic structure) that could be created naturally, and rapidly, by stars. A smaller fraction of dust in space is "stardust" consisting of larger refractory minerals that condensed as matter left by stars.

  • Interstellar dust particles were collected by the Stardust spacecraft and samples were returned to Earth in 2006.

How are meteoroids, meteors and meteorite related?

Meteoroids and meteors are 2 parts of a whole, meteorites are what they are if they survive the landing to Earth's surface.


  • A meteor refers to the flash of light we see in the sky and the meteoroid is the actual debris that makes the light from entering Earth at high velocities. When the meteor hits the ground, if it somehow doesn't burn up in the atmosphere, it is then referred to as a meteorite.
  • Meteoroid in common language can refer to the rock in space and meteor can refer to what the rock is when it enters the atmosphere. Meteorite remains consistent.

Source: Livemint

National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA)

GS-III : Economic Issues Terminology

National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA)

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the malpractices in passing on GST rate cuts to the customers and the role played by NAA in curbing it; NAA: mission and functions

News: A wave of orders is expected from the National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) in the next three months, with the Centre stepping up a goods and services tax (GST) compliance drive.


  • This comes amid concern among policymakers that businesses have pocketed part of the Rs.1 trillion worth of GST rate cuts that were to benefit end users and thus help stimulate demand in the economy.

  • In the past, about 60% of the cases investigated by the Directorate General of Anti-Profiteering (DGAP) have confirmed profiteering behaviour by businesses.

Complaints against firms

  • About 40 orders are expected to be issued shortly on complaints against firms in the real estate, consumer goods, and cinema industries.
  • The firms facing investigations include some of the leading suppliers of ayurvedic products, electronics and television makers, luggage and travel accessories makers, two leading multiplex chains, and hygiene and home products firms.

Role played by NAA

  • The NAA has issued orders on more than 100 cases since it came into force in November 2017. Its orders have led to businesses depositing about 600 crores in profiteered amounts to a consumer welfare fund managed by the consumer affairs ministry.
  • Authorities intend to take more measures to reach out to consumers and sensitise them about their rights and remedies. Towards this, the government has decided to direct erring companies to deposit the profiteered amounts in a separate fund to be used for GST-related purposes.

About National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA)

  • The National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) was constituted under Section 171 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.

  • It is to ensure the reduction in the rate of tax or the benefit of the input tax credit is passed on to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices.

NAA has taken the following steps for customers to get the full benefit of tax cuts:

  • Holding regular meetings with the Zonal Screening Committees and the Chief Commissioners of Central Tax to stress consumer awareness programs.
  • Launching a helpline to resolve the queries of citizens regarding registration of complaints against profiteering.
  • Receiving complaints through email and the NAA portal.
  • Working with consumer welfare organizations to facilitate outreach activities.

Vision and Mission of NAA –

  • The National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) is the institutional mechanism under GST law to check the unfair profit-making activities by the trading community.

  • The Authority’s core function is to ensure that the benefits of the reduction in GST rates on goods and services made by the GST Council and proportional change in the Input tax credit passed on to the ultimate consumers and recipient respectively by way of reduction in the prices by the suppliers.

Institutional Mechanism:

This institutional framework comprises the NAA, a Standing Committee, Screening Committees in every State and the Directorate General of Safeguards in the Central Board of Indirect taxes & Customs (CBIC).

Source: Livemint



Syllabus subtopic: 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.

Prelims and Mains focus: About the TrueNat tool and significance for WHO approval of it, the menace of TB in India

News: The World Health Organization (WHO) has given its approval to TrueNat, an indigenous molecular diagnostic tool to help detect tuberculosis (TB).

About TrueNat

  • The TB test, developed by Goa- based Molbio Diagnostics, was found to be comparable in accuracy to similar tests currently in use and has been recommended as a replacement for sputum microscopy tests.

  • TrueNat is a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)- based test that by assaying the genes present in the TB bacteria, can not only detect the presence of the bacteria but can also detect drug resistance with the use of chips.

  • The DNA of the TB bacteria is extracted from sputum samples collected from the patient and the test can easily and cost- effectively be done in the primary health care setup.

Why is WHO’s approval significant for India

  • The approval by WHO is important for India because it has the most number of TB patients in the world.
  • According to the Global TB report 2019, India had 26.9 lakh patients in 2018.
  • According to the National Strategy Plan for TB Elimination 2017-25:

  1. TB kills and estimated 4,80,000 Indians every year and over 1400 everyday.

  1. India also has over a million ‘missing cases’ every year that are not notified and most remain either undiagnosed or unaccountably and inadequately diagnosed and treated in the private sector.

Source: Indian Express

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