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17 June, 2020

75 Min Read

GS-I : Human Geography Oil and Natural Gas
Indian Gas Exchange

Indian Gas Exchange

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

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan launches Indian Gas Exchange, first nationwide online delivery-based gas trading platform

Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel launched the Indian Gas Exchange (IGX), first nationwide online delivery-based gas trading platform, in an e-ceremony.  IGX will be a delivery-based trading platform for delivery of natural Gas

Imp Points

  • Incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the IEX - India’s energy market platform, IGX will enable market participants to trade in standardised gas contracts.
  • The platform is fully automated with web-based interface to provide seamless trading experience to the customers.
  • The launch of the new electronic trading platform for natural gas has opened a new chapter in the energy history of India and help the nation move towards free market pricing of natural gas.
  • As there will be a market driven pricing mechanism, India Gas Exchange (IGX) will play a bigger role towards realizing a free market for gas, he added.
  • Through IGX, India's vision on mega investments on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, gas pipelines, CGD infrastructure and permission for market driven price mechanism will be materialized.
  • Referring to the various initiatives taken to make India a gas-based economy, the Minister said that Indian gas market has multiple price bands for assets including pre-NELP, NELP, High Temperature and High pressure (HTHP) and Deepwater and Ultra Deep Water blocks.
  • The country has long-term gas contracts with many countries like Qatar, Australia, Russia and the US, and has made investments abroad in strategic assets in Mozamibque, Russia and other countries.
  • He also mentioned about various ongoing projects to strengthen the gas infrastructure in the country like Urja Ganga (refer www.aspireias.com , Eastern India grid, Indradhanush project in the North-east, Dhamra-Dahej pipeline, coal gasification and CBM policy.

He said that country will have more than 30,000km of pipeline in next few years. According to the minister, the new electronic trading platform for natural gas is the biggest indicator of the centre's progressive policy as it completes the entire energy value chain from gas production from multiple sources and imports of LNG from different parts of globe to having a transparent price mechanism. Talking about the Prime Minister’s vision to provide energy justice to the people of India, he said that they must have universal access to clean, affordable, sustainable and equitable supply of energy.

Source: PIB

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GS-I : Human Geography Universe and Solar System
India’s deepest solar eclipse

India’s deepest solar eclipse

  • India will witness its “deepest” annular solar eclipse of this century this Sunday (June 21), with the Sun appearing as a necklace of pearls for around 30 seconds during the maximum phase along a narrow corridor running through Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttarakhand.
  • The eclipse will be partial in the rest of the country.
  • An annular solar eclipse occurs when the apparent size of the Moon is slightly less than that of the Sun, which leaves the outer rim of the latter uncovered, giving the appearance of a “ring of fire”.
  • During this eclipse, that ring is expected to be very thin as the Moon will cover up to 98.8% of the solar disc, making it the “deepest” annular eclipse of the century in India, according to experts.
  • Instead of a wide fiery ring, the Sun may appear as a necklace of shiny beads (known as Baily’s beads) due to light filtering through Moon’s hills and valleys.
  • There’s a possibility that the Sun’s corona, an ethereal white halo around the solar disc, will be visible during this eclipse.
  • With the next eclipse (visible from the country) 11 years away in 2031, this is a big astronomical event for India. Many global eclipse chasers were expected to watch it from India but the Covid-19 pandemic dashed those plans.
  • Domestic travel curbs have dampened the plans of many Indian enthusiasts as well.

The Moon Eclipses the Sun

  • An eclipse of the Sun happens when the New Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, blocking out the Sun's rays and casting a shadow on parts of Earth.
  • The Moon's shadow is not big enough to engulf the entire planet, so the shadow is always limited to a certain area.
  • This area changes during the course of the eclipse because the Moon and Earth are in constant motion: Earth continuously rotates around its axis while it orbits the Sun, and the Moon orbits Earth.
  • This is why solar eclipses seem to travel from one place to another.

Types of Solar Eclipses

There are 4 different types of solar eclipses. How much of the Sun's disk is eclipsed, the eclipse magnitude, depends on which part of the Moon's shadow falls on Earth.

  1. Partial solar eclipses occur when the Moon only partially obscures the Sun's disk and casts only its penumbra on Earth.
  2. Annular solar eclipses take place when the Moon's disk is not big enough to cover the entire disk of the Sun, and the Sun's outer edges remain visible to form a ring of fire in the sky. An annular eclipse of the Sun takes place when the Moon is near apogee, and the Moon's antumbra falls on Earth.
  3. Total solar eclipses happen when the Moon completely covers the Sun, and it can only take place when the Moon is near perigee, the point of the Moon's orbit closest to Earth. You can only see a total solar eclipse if you're in the path where the Moon's casts its darkest shadow, the umbra.
  4. Hybrid Solar Eclipses, also known as annular-total eclipses, are the rarest type. They occur when the same eclipse changes from an annular to a total solar eclipse, and/or vice versa, along the eclipse's path.

Solar Eclipses Mainly Look Partial

  • Solar eclipses are only visible from within the area on Earth where the Moon's shadow falls, and the closer you are to the center of the shadow's path, the bigger the eclipse looks.
  • Solar eclipses are usually named for their darkest, or maximum, point. The exception is the hybrid eclipse.
  • The darkest point of solar eclipses is only visible from a small area. In most places and for most of the duration, total, annular, and hybrid eclipses look like a partial solar eclipse.

Only around New Moon

  • For a solar eclipse to take place, the Sun, the Moon, and Earth must be aligned in a perfect or near perfect straight line–an alignment astronomers call syzygy. This happens around New Moon every lunar month.
  • The New Moon has to be near a lunar node. These nodes are the 2 points where the plane of the Moon's orbital path around Earth meets Earth's orbital plane around the Sun–the ecliptic. The paths meet because the plane of the Moon's path around Earth is inclined at an angle of approximately 5° to the ecliptic.
  • The Sun must also be close to a lunar node so it can form a perfect or near-perfect line with the Moon and Earth. This alignment occurs a little less than 6 months apart, and it lasts, on average, around 34.5 days. It is only during this time–the eclipse season–that eclipses can take place.
  • When there is a Full Moon during the eclipse season, we see a lunar eclipse.

 

Source: PIB

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GS-II : International Relations India and its neighborhood
An inflection point (Killings at the LAC)

An inflection point (Killings at the LAC)

  • The brutal killing of 20 Indian soldiers by the Chinese Army in the deadliest escalation of violence between India and China on the LAC in nearly four and half decades puts a heavy question mark on an already fraught process.
  • It has the potential to vitiate and undermine the disengagement agreed upon only a few days ago between senior military officers on both sides and harden the standoff between the two countries.
  • Yet India must keep a clear and determined head. It needs to respond with calm deliberation and steely resolve.
  • It must be fully prepared to escalate but it must not embark on such a course without a full assessment of what transpired on the ground, or without hearing out what the Chinese leadership has to say — and being mindful of what lies ahead.
  • When two armies are fully mobilised and standing eyeball to eyeball, there is always the possibility of an accident that triggers an escalation that neither side wants.
  • Monday night’s clashes came after both sides had publicly stated that the situation was under control and that disengagement had begun in the Galwan area.
  • The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused the Indian Army of violating the consensus that the two sides arrived at, and New Delhi has accused Beijing of doing the same.
  • New Delhi should activate all political lines of communication with Beijing, including the ones between the special representatives to the border negotiations and the foreign ministers, to make this point and take it forward.
  • Many in Delhi have been lulled into complacency by previous diplomatic successes in defusing military crises in Depsang (2013), Chumar (2014) and Doklam (2017).
  • But Delhi can’t ignore the profound change in Beijing’s worldview and the new sense in Beijing that it can afford to take on all comers.
  • China’s growing assertiveness in the territorial disputes with its neighbours, its simmering Cold War with the United States, and the PLA’s aggressive postures on the ground.
  • In other words, India’s political illusions about China are becoming increasingly unsustainable and Delhi has arrived at an inflection point in its policies toward Beijing.
  • If Beijing refuses to restore the status quo ante on the frontiers, it will push India irrevocably towards a comprehensive and long-term political, diplomatic and military strategy of responding purposefully.

Source: IE

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GS-II : International Relations India and its neighborhood
What happened in Nathu La in 1967?

What happened in Nathu La in 1967?

Context

  • As reports of deaths of Indian soldiers in a violent faceoff on Ladakh border emerged, many took solace from the fact that no rounds were fired during the physical clash with the Chinese soldiers.
  • While this certainly makes these deaths more brutal than being shot and killed, it also gives hope that an escalation to kinetic means – rifles, howitzers, rockets, missiles and fighter jets – can be avoided between the two nuclear neighbours.

History of the conflict

  • The last military skirmish between India and China took place at Nathu La in September 1967. Before the skirmish escalated to artillery guns and threats of fighter jets, there was a scuffle between the soldiers of the two armies.
  • The clash eventually left 88 Indian soldiers dead. More than 300 Chinese soldiers were killed.
  • In the weeks and months ahead of the clash, the Indian side had decided to fence the border with three layers of barbed wire. Work started on August 20, 1967.
  • On August 23, about 75 Chinese in battle dress, carrying rifles fitted with bayonets, advanced slowly towards Nathu La in an extended line, and stopped at the border.
  • The Political Commissar — identifiable by a red patch on his cap, and the only one who could speak some English — read out slogans from a red book, which the rest of the party shouted after him.
  • The Indian troops were “standing to”, watching and waiting. After about an hour, the Chinese withdrew. But they returned later, and continued their protests.
  • On September 5, as the barbed wire fence was being upgraded to a concertina coil, the Political Commissar had an argument with the Commanding Officer of the local infantry battalion, Lt Colonel Rai Singh. Thereafter, work stopped.
  • Work was, however, resumed on September 7. This provoked about 100 Chinese soldiers to rush up, and a scuffle ensued.
  • Beaten down by the Jats, the Chinese resorted to stone-pelting, and the Indians responded in kind.
  • The Chinese sent across a warning through the Indian embassy: “The Chinese Government sternly warns the Indian Government: the Chinese Border Defence Troops are closely watching the development of the situation along the China-Sikkim boundary. Should the Indian troops continue to make provocative intrusions, the Indian Government must be held responsible for all the grave consequences.”
  • The corps commander had ordered the fence to be completed on September 11. That day, as work started, the Chinese came to protest, led by the Political Commissar. Lt Col Rai Singh went out to talk to them.
  • Suddenly, the Chinese opened fire, and Singh fell to the ground, injured.
  • Seeing their CO hit, the infantry battalion attacked the Chinese post.
  • But they suffered heavy casualties, including two officers, who were both given gallantry awards. Soldiers in the open were mowed down by Chinese machine gun fire.
  • The Indians responded with artillery fire, and pummelled every Chinese post in the vicinity.
  • Many more Chinese perished in these heavy fire assaults than the number of Indians who were killed in the initial engagement.
  • Taken aback by the strong Indian response, the Chinese threatened to bring in warplanes. When the Indians refused to back off, the Chinese news agency Xinhua denied these plans.
  • Having sent its message militarily, India, on September 12, delivered a note to the Chinese, offering an unconditional ceasefire across the Sikkim-Tibet border beginning 5.30 am on September 13. This was rejected, but the situation remained largely peaceful until the 14th.
  • On September 15, the Chinese handed over the bodies of Indian soldiers with arms and ammunition, saying they were acting in the interest of “preserving Sino-Indian friendship”.
  • On October 1, another skirmish erupted at Cho La, but the Indians again repulsed the Chinese.

Source: IE

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GS-II : Governance Aspirational district
Transformation of aspirational districts program

Transformation of aspirational districts program

GS-PAPER-2 Governance

Fourteen districts from Northeast have been identified for "Aspirational Development" under the program. 

  • "Transformation of Aspirational Districts" programme is under the aegis of NITI Aayog, under the guidance of Prime minister of India.
  • The main factors determining whether the given district is backward or not will be based on sectors like health, nutrition, education and agriculture.
  • For each district, a four-tier supervisory mechanism has been put in place with a Central Nodal Officer from the Union Government, a State Nodal Officer from concerned State Govt,a District Nodal Officer / District Collector and a Union Minister-in-charge.

Elaboration

India is amongst the leading economies of the world and envisages to become $5 trillion by 2024-25. However, presently the quality of life of many of its citizens is not consistent with this growth story, this is reflected in UNDP’s 2018 Human Development Index wherein India is ranked 130.

Living standards in India are affected by significant inter-state and inter-district variations. In order to remove this heterogeneity, the government has launched in January 2018, the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme (ADP).

Aspirational Districts’ Programme

  • Aspirational Districts are those districts in India that are affected by poor socio-economic indicators.
  • These are aspirational in the context,that improvement in these districts can lead to the overall improvement in human development in India.
  • The 115 districts were identified from 28 states, at least one from each state.
  • At the Government of India level, the programme is anchored by NITI Aayog. In addition, individual Ministries have assumed responsibility to drive the progress of districts.
  • The objective of the program is to monitor the real-time progress of aspirational districts.
  • ADP is based on 49 indicators from the 5 identified thematic areas, which focuses closely on improving people’s Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure.
  • With States as the main drivers, ADP seeks to focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
  • The broad contours of the programme are:
    • Convergence (of Central & State Schemes) which brings together the horizontal and vertical tiers of the government.
    • Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors) which enables impactful partnerships between government, market and civil society.
    • Competition among districts driven by a spirit of the mass movement, it fosters accountability on district governments.
  • The Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) is one of the largest experiments on outcomes-focused governance in the world.

Impact of ADP

  • Decentralization of Development: ADP focuses on outcomes, that enables local experimentation based on a firm appreciation of ground realities.
  • Inclusive approach: The delta ranking of the Aspirational Districts combines the innovative use of data with pragmatic administration, keeping the district at the locus of inclusive development. Through ADP government seeks to uplift those districts which have shown relatively lesser progress in achieving key social outcomes.
  • Improved Implementation: Spurred by competition based on outcomes, local governments target their efforts and improve programme implementation and design. For Example, Health outcomes in ADP saw an increase in registering pregnant women into the health system, institutional delivery of babies and anti-diarrheal treatment, etc.

Challenges

  • ADP is affected by the issue pertaining to insufficient budgetary resources.
  • ADP is implemented by multiple ministries which leads to a lack of coordination.
  • Data High-quality administrative data is critical to improving programme implementation and design at the local level.
  • The Delta ranking itself is largely focused on assessing quantity (that is, coverage of access) rather than quality. On-time delivery of textbooks in schools are part of the ranking index, However, textbook delivery may or may not be a problem in districts. Also, the quality of education in India is in a dismal condition, as highlighted by the ASER report.

Conclusion

  • more simplified ranking index is needed with few but carefully chosen output and outcome measures which can more clearly signal national development targets.
  • Financial autonomy to local governments should be provided.
  • Independent surveys can be used to validate administrative data, this will help improve data quality.
  • Building each district’s internal capacity to produce reliable and actionable data, and promoting a culture of data use, can be made a priority for the ADP.

Initial evidence suggests that the ADP has already contributed towards improving the lakhs of lives. Therefore, it is critical to carefully document and learn from the ADP’s experiences. 

Source: TH

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GS-III :
India State of Forest Report

India State of Forest Report (ISFR)

Part of: GS-I- Geography and Forest (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

State of Forest Report (SFR 2017)

  • SFR is a biennial report published by Forest Survey of India (FSI), which is under the Ministry of Environment.
  • The latest report states that, India posted a marginal 0.21% rise in the area under forest between 2015 and 2017.
  • The document says that India has about 7, 08,273 square km of forest, which is 21.53% of the geographic area of the country.
  • The top five States where maximum forest cover has increased are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and Telangana.
  • India’s northeast showed a decrease in the forest cover.
  • The five States where forest cover has decreased most are Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya.
  • The main reasons for the decrease are shifting cultivation, other biotic pressures, rotational felling, diversion of forest lands for developmental activities, submergence of forest cover, agriculture expansion and natural disasters
  • Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country in terms of area, followed by Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
  • In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area, Lakshadweep has the highest forest cover, followed by Mizoram and Andaman and Nicobar Island.
  • The survey, which has for the first time assessed water bodies, said that during last decade, the area under water bodies is increased by 2647 sq.km.

 

India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2019

The Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change has released the India State of Forest Report (ISFR), 2019.

  • ISFR is a biennial publication of Forest Survey of India (FSI), an organization under the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.
  • The ISFR assesses the forest and tree cover, bamboo resources, carbon stock and forest fires.
  • The 2019 report for the first time has assessed the qualitative nature of the forest cover, including listing its biodiversity and the type of plants and trees found.
  • It also created a national forest inventory for the first time on produce from forests.

Imp Points

  • Forest Cover
    • Forest Cover (Area-wise) : Madhya Pradesh> Arunachal Pradesh> Chhattisgarh> Odisha> Maharashtra.
    • Forest Cover (Percentage): Mizoram (85.4%)> Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%)> Meghalaya (76.33%)
  • Increase in Forest Cover
    • The country’s forest cover includes all patches of land with a tree canopy density of more than 10% and more than 1 hectare in area, irrespective of land use, ownership and species of trees.
    • The total forest cover of the country is 7,12,249 sq km which is 21.67% of the geographical area of the country.
    • The top five states to have shown an increase in forest cover include Karnataka (1,025 sq km) > Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km) > Kerala (823 sq km) > J&K (371 sq km) > Himachal Pradesh (334 sq km).
  • Decline of Forest Cover in North Eastern Region
    • Total forest cover in the North Eastern region is 1,70,541 sq km, which is 65.05% of its geographical area.
    • There has been a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 765 sq km (0.45%) in the region. Except Assam and Tripura, all the States in the region show decrease in forest cover.
  • Forest Cover in Tribal Districts
    • The total forest cover in the tribal districts is 4,22,351 sq km, which is 37.54% of the geographical area of these districts.
    • There has been a decrease of 741 sq km of forest cover within the Recorded Forest Area/ Green Wash (RFA/GW) in the tribal districts and an increase of 1,922 sq km outside.
    • There has been a decline in tree cover inside forests due to tribal populations getting “land titles” (patta) and there has been a rise in trees outside the forest area due to an increase in tree plantation and afforestation activities.

Note: Recorded Forest Area: The area recorded as forest in the Government records. Green Wash: The extent of wooded areas generally shown in light green colour on the Survey of India toposheets.

  • Increase in the tree cover
    • Tree cover comprises of tree patches of size less than 1 hectare occurring outside the recorded forest area.
    • The tree cover of the country is estimated as 95,027 sq km which is 2.89% of the geographical area.
    • Maharashtra has had the highest increase in tree cover and a large part of that is due to horticulture.
  • In comparison to 2017
    • The 2019 survey has found an increase of 5,188 sq km in total forest and tree cover in the country.
    • Tree and forest cover together made up 24.56% (8,07,276 sq km) of India's area. In the last assessment it was 24.39%.
    • The nation’s tree and forest cover has largely hovered from 21-25% and is short of the National Forest Policy, 1988, which envisages 33% to be under such cover.

Mangrove cover in the country has increased by 54 sq km (1.10%) as compared to the previous assessment.

  • Carbon Stock

The total carbon stock of the country was estimated at 7124 million tons, which is an increase of 42.6 million tons from the last assessment. It implies that India is on the right track to achieve its Paris Agreement commitment of 2.5 -3 billion carbon sinks.

  • Wetlands

The total number of wetlands located within the RFA/GW is 8.13%. Amongst the States, Gujarat has the largest area of wetlands within RFA in the country followed by West Bengal.

  • Forest Produce

Dependence of fuelwood on forests is the highest in the State of Maharashtra, whereas, for fodder, small timber and bamboo, dependence is highest in Madhya Pradesh. The analysis reveals that 21.40% of the forest cover of the country is highly to extremely fire prone.

National Forest Policy, 1988

  • The policy aims at maintaining of environmental stability.
  • It looks at conserving the natural heritage of the country by preserving the remaining natural forests.
  • Increasing forest/tree cover in the country through massive afforestation and social forestry programmes.
  • Creating a massive people’s movement for achieving these objectives and to minimise pressure on existing forests.

Source: TH

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GS-IV : Ethics Spiritualism
International Day of Yoga 2020 with the “Yoga at Home, Yoga with Family” campaign

AYUSH Ministry gears up for International Day of Yoga 2020 with the “Yoga at Home, Yoga with Family” campaign

Context

  • In context of the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, slowdown in daily activities and restrictions on the movement of people, this year’s observance of International Day of Yoga will aim to highlight the health-building and stress-relieving aspects of Yoga.
  • To facilitate this, the Ministry of AYUSH is organising a trainer-led session which will be telecasted on Doordarshan on 21st June at 6:30AM for people to follow and practice in solidarity.

Yoga at home

  • In the new scenario, the trend that has emerged for observation of IDY is to focus on its health- rewards and to do Yoga at home on Yoga Day. The Ministry of AYUSH is supporting this trend by promoting the theme “Yoga at Home, Yoga with Family” in its IDY activities.
  • Every year, the 21st of June is celebrated worldwide as the International Day of Yoga (IDY).
  • The public has embraced this event in the previous years, adopting it as a celebration of India’s culture and tradition.
  • Today the whole world is worried and gloomy about the Covid- 19 pandemic. Yoga is especially relevant now, since its practice leads to both physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Of particular importance in these difficult times are the following two proven benefits which the public can gain from Yoga:
  1. Positive impact on general health and immunity enhancement, and
  2. Its globally accepted role as a stress buster.
  • The 45-minute Common Yoga Protocol (CYP) is one of the most popular Yoga programmes across the world and has been at the heart of the IDY since the beginning.
  • It was developed by a team of leading Yoga gurus and experts, and includes safe practices to improve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of the population, which can be practiced at home on a daily basis.
  •  It is designed to be easily adoptable by the majority of the people irrespective of their age and gender and can be learnt through simple training sessions and online classes.

Common Yoga Protocol

  • The Ministry of AYUSH is encouraging the people to learn the Common Yoga Protocol using the resources made publicly available by the Ministry on the Yoga Portal, its social media handles and the television.
  • Prasar Bharati has initiated the daily telecast of the Common Yoga Protocol on DD Bharati from 08:00 a.m. to 08:30 a.m., from the 11th of June 2020.
  • The International Naturopathy Organisation (INO), an NGO that works for promotion of Naturopathy and Yoga, has set a programme in motion to encourage its 25 lakh members to perform Yoga harmoniously based on CYP, from their houses.

 

Source: PIB

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GS-III :
ICMR RECOMMENDS THE USE OF RAPID ANTIGEN TEST KIT

ICMR RECOMMENDS THE USE OF RAPID ANTIGEN TEST KIT ALONG WITH RT-PCR TEST FOR DIAGNOSIS OF COVID TEST

Indian Council of Medical Research, ICMR has recommended the use of rapid antigen test kits for diagnosis of COVID-19 in containment zones and healthcare settings in combination with the RT-PCR test.

The kits will allow faster diagnosis without laboratory examination. Rapid antigen test kit is a rapid chromatographic immuno assay for qualitative detection of specific antigens to SARS-CoV-2. It has been developed by a South Korea based company.

ICMR said in an advisory that suspected individuals who test negative for COVID-19 by rapid antigen test should be tested sequentially by RT-PCR to rule out infection, whereas a positive test should be considered as a true positive and does not need reconfirmation by RT-PCR test.

The Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection can be interpreted as positive or negative after 15 minutes of putting the sample into the well by appearance of test and control lines, which can be read with a naked eye, requiring no specialized equipment. The maximum duration for interpreting a positive or negative test is 30 minutes. After that the test strip should be discarded.

Source: TH

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GS-II : Governance Sports
Fit INDIA

Fit INDIA TO launch special films promoting 10 indigenous sports of India under Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat program

Sports Ministry’s flagship programme Fit India is joining hands with the Department of School Education and Literacy, to launch a series of special films promoting 10 indigenous sports of India under the Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat initiative.

 The series is aimed at creating awareness about not just the indigenous games but also the culture and heritage of the states to which they belong. Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat aims to create awareness among youngsters about the culture and heritage of states across India.  This initiative aims to further that effort.

These special films have been customized for school-going children to make them aware of the history and heritage of the state from which a game emanates, the particular sport as well as how it is played. The 10 episodes can be watched from Monday to Friday -- June 8 to June 19 -- at 11am, on the Fit India YouTube page and Ministry of Human Resource Development digital platforms.

Source: TH

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GS-III :
Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the initial clinical trial results from the United Kingdom (UK) that show dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.
  • For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO.

 

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids (cortisone-like medicines) are used to provide relief for inflamed areas of the body. They lessen swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions. They are often used as part of the treatment for a number of different diseases, such as severe allergies or skin problems, asthma, or arthritis.

 

  • The benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with COVID-19, and was not observed in patients with milder disease.
  • “This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Dexamethasone is a steroid that has been used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including inflammatory disorders and certain cancers. It has been listed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines since 1977 in multiple formulations, and is currently off-patent and affordably available in most countries.

 

  • The researchers shared initial insights about the results of the trial with WHO, and we are looking forward to the full data analysis in the coming days. WHO will coordinate a meta-analysis to increase our overall understanding of this intervention.

 

Source: WHO

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GS-III : Economic Issues Industry
National Productivity Day

National Productivity Day

The National Productivity Council is observed 12th February as National Productivity Day, and till 18th February National Productivity Week. "Industry 4.0 Leapfrog Opportunity for India” is the theme of the National Productivity Week -2018. Industry 4.0 is characterized by the increasing digitization and interconnection of products, value chains and business models.

National Productivity Council (NPC)

NPC is a mission oriented apex, autonomous and not for profit organization. It is established by the Ministry of Industry, Govt. of India in 1958.  Its objective is to promote the cause of productivity in all sectors of the Indian economy. NPC is a constituent of the Tokyo-based Asian Productivity Organization (APO), an Inter Governmental Body, of which the Government of India is a founder member.

Source: PIB

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GS-I : Human Geography Current mapping upsc
Wakhan Corridor

Wakhan Corridor

Wakhan corridor is a narrow strip of inhospitable and barely accessible land in Afghanistan bordered by the mountains of Tajikistan and Pakistan, and extending all the way to China.

 

  

 

  • The corridor is also known by its persian name Bam-e-Dunya, or “roof of the world”
  • The area is populated by the Wakhins who are the members of a nomadic tribe in the region.
  • Created in the 19th century as a Great Game buffer zone between tsarist Russia and British India, the corridor has since remained untouched by any kind of government
  • It can be reached from surrounding countries through the “Pamir Knot”, where three of the highest mountain ranges in the world converge.

Source: TH

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GS-III :
Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat

Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat

The LPG Panchayat, which was launched in Gandhinagar last year, is aimed at driving rural households to adopt Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Now, the President is planning to conduct one in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

As a part of it, over 100 beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), from 20 states will share their experiences of how the clean cooking fuel has changed their lives, in the presence of the President. After the launch of the PMUY, LPG consumption witnessed an increase of 10 per cent to 21.5 million tons during 2016-17, compared to the previous year.

Source: TH

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GS-III :
INS Chakra

INS Chakra

Russian authorities have demanded over $20 million for rectifying the damage suffered by nuclear submarine INS Chakra. INS Chakra is a Russia-made, nuclear-propelled, hunter-killer akula class submarine.

INS Chakra is one of the quietest nuclear submarines around, with noise levels next to zero. INS Chakra has been taken on lease from Russia for 10 years and would provide the Navy the opportunity to train personnel and operate such nuclear-powered vessels. The INS Chakra joined the Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam in 2012.

Source: TH

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GS-III :
India Health Fund

India Health Fund

The India Health Fund (IHF) is an initiative by Tata Trusts, in collaboration with the Global Fund. It is to financially support innovations and technologies designed to combat tuberculosis and malaria. The IHF aims to support new products and strategies that impact the entire lifecycle of TB and malaria, from prevention to post-cure recovery.

The funds will support the long-term exercise aligned with the country’s goal of eliminating TB by 2025 and malaria by 2030. The two diseases account for over 4.23 lakhs deaths and around 15 million lab-confirmed cases every year.

Source: TH

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GS-III :
Human Egg grown to maturity in lab

Human Egg grown to maturity in lab

Scientists have succeeded for the first time in growing human eggs in a laboratory from the earliest stages in ovarian tissue all the way to full maturity. It is the first-time human egg was developed outside the human body.

If the success rate and safety measures are improved, the process may help in preserving the fertility of cancer patients, improving fertility treatments, and deepening scientific understanding of the biology of the earliest stages of human life.

Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide to produce more stem cells. There are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues.

Source: TH

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GS-III : Economic Issues MSME
Changing the definition of MSME

Changing the definition of MSME

The government is changing the criteria to define micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), to make these in sync with the goods and services tax (GST) regime. The earlier classification was based on the investment in plant and machinery in case of goods companies and in equipment in the case of service companies.

  • The new classification is based on annual turnover.

Enterprises

Old Definition

(In Million Rs.)

New Definition

(In million Rs.)

 

Goods

Companies

Services Firm

 

MICRO

2.5

1

50

SMALL

25-50

1-20

50-750

MEDIUM

50-100

20-50

750-2500

The change would be effective when the proposed amendments to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006, comes into effect.

Source: TH

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GS-III : Economic Issues Banking
Panel on Crypto currency

Panel on Crypto currency

The panel on cryptocurreny, headed by Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg, is expected to submit its report. The panel was set up in 2017 to study the impact of crypto currencies and come up with recommendations to regulate them. In his budget speech Finance minister said that crypto currencies are not legal tender. However, the Centre will explore the uses of block chain technology, the encrypted data structure on which crypto currencies are built.

Source: IE

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GS-III :
Microsoft HoloLens-Augmented Reality

Microsoft HoloLens-Augmented Reality

Augmented reality headsets -HoloLens can help doctors ‘see through’ organs and tissues in the operating theatre. The advancement improves the outcome of reconstructive surgery for patients. 

The approach can help surgeons locate and reconnect key blood vessels during reconstructive surgery, which could improve outcomes for patients . Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are "augmented" by computer-generated perceptual information. 

Other Fields of applications are: Archaeology, Architecture, Education, commerce.

Source: TH

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GS-III : Economic Issues Banking
Standing Deposit Facility Scheme

Standing Deposit Facility Scheme

RBI uses array of instruments such as Cash Reserve Ratio, Open Market Operation, Market Stabilisation Scheme to absorb excess liquidity in the economy. These measures are considered as Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) to bring the liquidity gap under control. However, these tools were not proven to be useful when the money market liquidity is in excess to deal with. Eg. Post demonetization scenario.

During post demonetization, RBI ran out of government securities to offer as collateral and had to temporarily hike its CRR. Now, there is a proposal to introduce Standing Deposit Facility Scheme (SDFS) which was already recommended by Urjit Patel Committee in 2014. It is to empower RBI with an additional instrument for liquidity management.

SDFS is a toolkit of monetary policy for absorption of surplus liquidity from the system but without the need for providing collateral in exchange.

 

Elaboration

The Standing Deposit Facility, proposed to be introduced by the RBI, is a collateral free liquidity absorption mechanism that aims to absorb liquidity from the commercial banking system into the RBI. Government in the Budget’s (2018) Finance Act included a provision for the introduction of the Standing Deposit Facility (SDF).

What is Standing Deposit Facility (SDF)?

Standing Deposit Facility allows the RBI to absorb liquidity (deposit) from commercial banks without giving government securities in return to the banks. In the present situation, the main arrangement for the RBI to absorb excess money with the banking system is the famous reverse repo mechanism. Under reverse repo (which is a part of the Liquidity Adjustment Facility), banks will get government securities in return when they give excess cash to the RBI.  An interest rate of reverse repo rate is also provided to banks.

The inconvenience with this arrangement is that the RBI has to provide securities every time when banks provides funds.

As per the stand of the RBI, when the central bank has to absorb tremendous amount of money from the banking system through the reverse repo window, it will become difficult for the RBI to provide such volume of government securities in return. This situation was occurred during the time of demonetisation.

In this sense, the Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) is a collateral free arrangement meaning that RBI need not give collateral for liquidity absorption. The SDF will allow the RBI to suck out liquidity without offering government securities as collateral.

Significance of Standing Deposit Facility

Importance of the SDF is that it is designed to enable the Reserve Bank to deal with extraordinary situations in which it has to absorb massive amounts of liquidity. In the past situations like global financial crisis and demonetisation caused liquidity absorption problems for the RBI.

Under the existing liquidity framework, liquidity absorption through reverse repos, open market operations and the cash reserve ratio (CRR) are at the discretion of the Reserve Bank. But SDF will enable banks to park excess liquidity with the Reserve Bank at their discretion.

As a standing facility, the SDF supplements Marginal Standing Facility or the MSF (SDF for liquidity absorption whereas MSF for liquidity injection).

Difference between Standing Deposit Facility, Reverse Repo and MSF

Within the existing liquidity management framework, liquidity absorption through reverse repos, open market operations and the cash reserve ratio (CRR) are at the discretion of the Reserve Bank. On the other hand, the use of standing facilities (MSF, SDF) would be at the discretion of banks.

The difference between the Standing Deposit Facility and Reverse Repo is that there is no need for collateral under the SDF.

According to the Finance Act that made the launch of SDF, a separate clause shall be inserted in the RBI Act: “The accepting of money as deposits, repayable with interest, from banks or any other person under the Standing Deposit Facility Scheme, as approved by the Central Board, from time to time, for the purposes of liquidity management…”

The proposal was first suggested by the Urjit Patel Committee in its recommendation of the Monetary Policy Framework in 2014.

Source: TH

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